Meat & Livestock News

Challenges in Global Markets Impact New Zealand’s Red Meat Exports


  • In January 2024, New Zealand’s red meat exports saw a decrease to $759 million, 8% lower than the previous year, marking the least profitable January since 2019.
  • A notable decline in exports to China by 21% contrasted with increases to the US by 10% and the UK by 34%.
  • The sector experienced a significant rise in chilled sheepmeat exports and steady beef exports to the UK, benefiting from a recent Free Trade Agreement.

The start of 2024 has brought forth challenges for New Zealand’s red meat exporters, with January witnessing a downturn in export value to $759 million, an 8% reduction from January 2023. This period has been identified as the most challenging January since 2019, according to the Meat Industry Association.

The association’s chief, Sirma Karapeeva, pointed out the primary cause of this downturn was a 21% reduction in exports to China, amounting to $263 million. On a brighter note, exports to the United States and the United Kingdom showed positive growth, increasing to $182 million and $38 million, respectively. 

Particularly encouraging was the 48% increase in chilled sheepmeat exports, totalling 4,311 tonnes, indicating a recovery from the previous two years’ low export levels despite recent logistical challenges.

While the overall volume of sheepmeat and beef exports remained stable year-on-year, the value derived from these exports saw a decline. Specifically, sheepmeat exports decreased in value by 9% to $305 million, and beef exports by 6% to $320 million, with the overall export values being significantly influenced by the Chinese market’s downturn.

Conversely, the United States market showed promising growth, with sheepmeat and beef exports increasing by 16% and 12%, respectively. The United Kingdom, following the Free Trade Agreement enacted in May 2023, also displayed potential for growth, with beef exports jumping from $588,000 the previous January to over $2 million.

This growth was predominantly driven by sheepmeat exports, indicating a recovery from the low levels of January 2023.

As New Zealand’s red meat sector navigates through the complexities of global market volatility, the focus remains on diversifying export markets and capitalising on trade agreements to ensure sustainable growth and resilience in the face of challenges.