Meat & Livestock News

Decline in New Zealand’s Meat Exports to China

New Zealand has witnessed a significant decline in its red meat exports to China, its largest export market. Data from the Meat Industry Association (MIA) reveals that in July, there was a substantial decrease in both beef and sheepmeat exports to China.

Specifically, sheepmeat exports fell by 31% in volume to 12,148 tonnes and 45% in value to $74 million. Concurrently, beef exports dropped by 29% in volume to 16,241 tonnes and 48% in value to $124 million, compared to the same month in the previous year.

MIA’s chief executive, Sirma Karapeeva, highlighted that while the decline can be partially attributed to the high export levels of the previous July, the figures are still lower than other recent July statistics for China. 

She further explained that New Zealand’s sheepmeat markets are facing challenges due to a decreasing sheep flock and a rise in beef and dairy cattle numbers. In July, New Zealand exported red meat products worth $807 million, which is $293 million less than the $1.1 billion exported in July 2022.

The MIA suggests that the 24% reduction in red meat exports in July this year, compared to July 2022, is a result of a processing catch-up after disruptions caused by Covid-19. Karapeeva clarified that the high export volumes in the previous July were mainly due to these disruptions.

She also mentioned that advancements in the sheep sector have balanced out the decline in sheepmeat exports with the rise in beef exports.

In a broader context, New Zealand’s red meat sector is urging future governments to prioritise agriculture and the production and export of beef and lamb in their economic strategies. A briefing document titled “Putting Meat on the Bone” was recently released by the MIA and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ). 

This document presents strategic challenges and proposes five solutions, including placing the red meat sector at the forefront of New Zealand’s economic strategy and enhancing collaboration between the industry and government for improved sustainability.

MIA chair, Nathan Guy, emphasised the significant contribution of the red meat sector to New Zealand’s economy. He believes that with the right policies, this contribution could grow substantially.

Guy also stressed the importance of political parties adopting a long-term perspective and building a bipartisan approach, citing New Zealand’s trade strategy as a successful example.