Meat & Livestock News

Sluggish Chinese Market Impacts Meat Exports


  • New Zealand’s meat exports in January 2024 fell by 8% to $759 million year-on-year, with a significant 21% drop in exports to China.
  • Despite the decline, exports to the United States and the UK saw increases of 10% and 34%, respectively, benefiting from the UK Free Trade Agreement.
  • The Chinese economy’s challenges, including industrial overcapacity and property sector issues, continue to affect global meat trade dynamics.

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) of New Zealand has reported a downturn in meat exports for January 2024, with a notable 8% decrease to $759 million compared to January 2023. This decline marks the lowest January result since 2019, primarily due to a 21% reduction in exports to China, amounting to $263 million. MIA Chief Executive Sirma Karapeeva highlighted the ongoing volatility in global markets as a significant factor behind these figures.

Conversely, there was a silver lining with exports to the United States increasing by 10% to $182 million and to the United Kingdom by 34% to $38 million. These gains are particularly noteworthy against the backdrop of the UK Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect in May 2023, bolstering beef exports to the UK from $588,000 last January to over $2 million.

The Chinese economy’s current state was a focal point at the recent National People’s Congress, where a modest growth target of about 5% was set for the upcoming year. China’s internal economic challenges, such as industrial overcapacity and issues within its property sector, have had widespread impacts, including on the global meat trade.

While the volume of New Zealand’s sheep meat and beef exports remained relatively stable compared to the previous year, their value saw a decline. Sheepmeat exports dropped by 9% to $305 million, and beef exports decreased by 6% to $320 million.

However, exports of sheepmeat and beef to the United States experienced growth, with increases of 16% to $45 million and 12% to $120 million, respectively.

Karapeeva acknowledged the persistent challenges facing New Zealand’s red meat exporters but also pointed to positive developments, such as the growth in sheep meat exports to the UK, which have recovered from low levels in January 2023. This mixed picture underscores the complex dynamics at play in the global meat trade, influenced by economic conditions, trade agreements, and market demands.