Red meat export value drops 11%

New Zealand’s red meat sector exported products worth $10.2 billion in 2023, a drop in value of 11% compared with the previous year.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said association analysis showed while export volumes increased, the value fell from the record figures for both sheepmeat and beef in 2022.

"Red meat exports are a good barometer of the state of the global economy.

"The drop was mainly due to tough economic conditions and inflationary pressures in many of our key markets. Consumers around the world still want to buy red meat but they are not paying as much for it.

"Increased supply from other exporters, including a significant increase in Australian sheepmeat exports, also had an impact. The top five markets were unchanged from 2022 but the value of New Zealand exports was mostly down, reflecting the overall trend."

China remained the largest market but exports fell 16% to $3.6b.

However, exports to the United States rose 8%, to $2.5b, largely due to increased demand for beef, Ms Karapeeva said.

"New Zealand’s red meat sector has a diverse export market strategy and this has helped mitigate the impact of the weakening demand and pricing in any one single market.

"With red meat sales declining in China, companies have other options and are making sound commercial decisions."

Exports to Japan fell 31% to $388 million, 22% to the United Kingdom to $361m and 4% to the Netherlands, to $347m.

Sheepmeat export volumes rose by 3% to 384,239 tonnes. However, the value was down 14% to $3.7b.

This drop largely reflected cost of living pressures in key markets but also increased competition from across the Tasman where exports increased following three years of good growing conditions and flock rebuilding.

Australian sheepmeat exports rose by 25% overall in 2023 and by 50% to China.

China’s tariff on Australian sheepmeat also dropped to zero at the beginning of 2023, meaning New Zealand no longer enjoys a tariff advantage in the market.

China continued to be New Zealand’s largest sheepmeat market at 216,079 tonnes, 56% of total sheepmeat exports. Volumes rose by 10% but value also fell 10% to $1.4b.

The United States was New Zealand’s third largest market by volume at 27,567 tonnes but the second largest by value at $544m. Volume and value fell 5% and 8% respectively.

At $18.04 per kg free on board the United States was still one of New Zealand’s highest value markets.

The United Kingdom was the second largest sheepmeat market, at 30,133 tonnes, down 7% by volume and 29% by value to $291m.

The drop was mostly due to the effect of high inflation and food prices on consumer spending, with some impact from increased Australian supply following Australia’s Free Trade Agreement with the UK coming into force mid-year.

The volume of beef exports increased 7% to 511,680 tonnes but the value fell 9% to $4.4b, reflecting difficult economic conditions, particularly in North Asia, and high levels of exports from other global suppliers.

There was a significant recovery of beef exports to the US. Drought conditions that led to high US domestic production during 2022 eased in some regions and New Zealand and Australia benefited from the increased demand with both having good quota access.

New Zealand ’s beef exports to the United States grew by 46% to 181,040 tonnes and 28% by value to $1.6b.

Volumes of exports to Canada also grew by 77% to 18,110 million tonnes with value up 52% to $155m.

China remained the largest market by volume at 203,509 tonnes, down 6%. However, the weak economy, high inventory levels and large volumes of Brazilian exports saw value drop 26% to $1.56b.

Exports to other major North Asian markets all declined, largely due to inflation and cost-of-living pressures. Japan was down 34% to $230m, Taiwan 6% to $176m and Korea 40% to $137m.

The UK was a small but improving market. The New Zealand-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement came into force in mid-2023, providing New Zealand with significantly improved quota access for beef. This was reflected in the volume exports to the UK growing by 83% to 2421 tonnes, and the value growing by 93% to $27m.

Most of this growth was in high-value chilled beef, making the United Kingdom one of New Zealand’s top markets for chilled beef in 2023, with exports of 884 tonnes worth $11.8m.

Fifth quarter exports were worth $2b in 2023, down 8% from 2022.

The value of exports for most categories declined, or only increased slightly. Casings and tripe remained the largest fifth-quarter category of the year with exports of $383m, down 13%. The largest market was China at $281m, followed by Italy at $18m and Korea $14m.

Edible offals were the second largest category, worth $341m, down 4%. China was the major market at $74m, followed by Japan at $65m and Korea, $37m.

Overall exports for red meat over December 2023 were worth $923m, up 1% on the same period in 2022.

The top markets were China with $320m, the United States at $237m, the United Kingdom at $44m, Japan at $42m and the Netherlands at $25m.

A total of 39,085 tonnes of sheepmeat was exported, up 16% in volume and down 3% in value to $318m.

Beef exports were up 18% by volume to 52,805 tonnes but down 10% by value to $436m.

Fifth quarter exports were down 11% to $170m.

 

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