Meat & Livestock News

2023 Red Meat Export Figures: Reflecting Global Economic Trends


  • The 2023 red meat export figures from New Zealand show an increase in volume but a decrease in value, reflecting tough global economic conditions.
  • China remains the largest market despite a decrease in exports, while exports to the United States and the UK show varied trends.
  • The report highlights the impact of increased competition, particularly from Australia, and changing tariff advantages on New Zealand’s red meat sector.

The Meat Industry Association’s (MIA) recent analysis reveals a mixed picture for New Zealand’s red meat exports in 2023. While volumes saw an uptick, the overall value did not match the record highs of 2022 for both sheepmeat and beef. This scenario, as MIA Chief Executive Sirma Karapeeva notes, serves as a reliable indicator of the global economic climate.

Economic challenges and inflationary pressures in key markets have led to a decrease in the amount consumers are willing to pay for red meat, despite sustained demand.

Additionally, New Zealand faced stiff competition, notably from Australia, which saw a significant rise in sheep meat exports. The leading five markets for New Zealand’s red meat remained consistent with the previous year, though the export value generally declined, mirroring the broader trend.

China continued as the top market, albeit with a 16% reduction in exports, amounting to $3.6 billion. Conversely, exports to the United States experienced an 8% increase, reaching $2.5 billion, primarily due to a surge in beef demand. Despite declining sales in China, New Zealand’s diversified market strategy has cushioned the sector from the full impact of fluctuating demand and prices.

Sheepmeat and Beef Export Dynamics

In the sheepmeat sector, export volumes increased by 3% to 384,239 tonnes, but the value dropped by 14% to $3.7 billion. This decline is attributed to cost of living pressures in key markets and heightened competition, especially from Australia, which enjoyed favourable growing conditions and tariff reductions in China.

Beef exports painted a similar picture, with a 7% increase in volume but a 9% decrease in value, totalling $4.4 billion. The report highlights a significant recovery in the US market, thanks to eased drought conditions and robust demand, benefiting both New Zealand and Australia.

Fifth Quarter Exports and December Figures

The fifth quarter exports, encompassing products like casings and edible offals, were valued at $2 billion in 2023, marking an 8% decline from the previous year. December 2023 saw a slight 1% increase in overall red meat exports compared to the same period in 2022, with notable performances across various markets.