Meat & Livestock News

New Zealand’s Red Meat Sector Faces Mixed Fortunes in 2024 Amid Global Pressures and Local Challenges


  • New Zealand’s red meat production is expected to face a slight decline in 2024, with beef production dropping by 3% due to herd contractions, yet prices may remain above the five-year average due to international demand.
  • Sheepmeat production is anticipated to increase, supported by improving ewe numbers and breeding conditions, despite global demand pressures and competition from Australia.
  • Environmental pressures and demographic shifts will continue to challenge the livestock industry, necessitating adaptation in production and processing to meet changing market and consumer demands.

In 2024, New Zealand’s red meat sector may see a mix of challenges and opportunities, according to Rabobank’s Global Animal Protein Production Outlook. The report forecasts a 3% decrease in beef production, attributed to the ongoing reduction of dairy and beef herds. Despite this, international market dynamics, particularly from the US, are expected to bolster beef export prices, potentially keeping New Zealand cattle prices slightly above the five-year average.

Conversely, the sheepmeat sector looks set to expand, with an anticipated increase in lamb numbers and sheepmeat production. This growth is underpinned by improving ewe numbers and breeding conditions. However, global demand fluctuations and increased Australian production are likely to influence market prices and demand.

The report also highlights significant pressures facing the livestock industry, including environmental concerns that are expected to limit major production growth.

New Zealand producers and processors will need to navigate these challenges, adapting to sustain success amidst tight margins, higher production costs, and adverse weather conditions. The necessity for investment in production system upgrades to meet emerging market needs, regulatory requirements, and changing consumer preferences around sustainability is underscored.

Demographic changes, including a tightening labour market and reduced population growth, are poised to impact production costs and consumption rates. Despite these challenges, the resilience and adaptability of companies within the animal protein supply chains are noted as key to continuing production growth and meeting customer demands in difficult market conditions.

This nuanced outlook for New Zealand’s red meat industry in 2024 reflects the complex interplay of local and global factors influencing production, pricing, and market demand.