Meat & Livestock News

Update on United States Trade Market for New Zealand Beef and Lamb


  • Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) provides insights into the US market, highlighting the significance of beef and sheepmeat exports to the US.
  • Recent developments include B+LNZ’s engagement with US counterparts on sustainability and the Generation Next Sheep Programme.
  • B+LNZ reports a positive turn in trade actions, with one of two actions against New Zealand lamb imports being dropped, and continues to work on reducing risks to New Zealand farmers and processors.

As of 31 January 2024, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Trade Policy team has shared an update on the United States (US) trade market, detailing the ongoing efforts and recent developments in one of the most crucial markets for New Zealand’s beef and sheepmeat exports.

Key Market Insights

The US remains a pivotal market for New Zealand, absorbing 36% of its beef exports and 15% of its sheepmeat exports in 2023. New Zealand’s beef, primarily frozen manufacturing beef, finds its way into the US hamburger meat market, benefiting both New Zealand’s dairy industry and US cattle farmers by providing a valuable outlet for lean beef and enhancing the value of US cattle.

Additionally, New Zealand’s high-quality chilled beef is carving out a niche in the US, with exports jumping from NZ$52 million in 2019 to NZ$133 million in 2023, catering to consumers seeking grass-fed, high animal welfare products.

Despite sheepmeat’s relatively low per capita consumption in the US, the market is expanding rapidly, presenting significant growth opportunities. In 2023, New Zealand exported 27,500 tonnes of sheepmeat to the US, valued at NZ$544 million, slightly down from 2022 but still representing one of New Zealand’s highest value markets.

Collaboration and Sustainability Initiatives

B+LNZ actively collaborates with its US counterparts, recently participating in the American Sheep Industry (ASI) convention in Colorado. Here, B+LNZ and Sheep Producers Australia discussed sustainability with the American Lamb Board (ALB), highlighting the sector’s challenges and opportunities. The Global Sheep Forum (GSF), including industry organisations from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, has launched the Generation Next Sheep Programme to foster leadership and collaboration among young industry leaders.

Trade Actions and Policy Engagement

B+LNZ reports a positive development regarding US trade actions aimed at restricting New Zealand lamb imports. One of two actions initiated by US producer organisations has been dropped, following the ASI’s decision not to pursue allegations of harm from New Zealand and Australian sheepmeat imports. B+LNZ, in partnership with the Meat Industry Association (MIA), continues to engage with New Zealand and US officials to mitigate any potential risks to New Zealand’s farmers and processors.

B+LNZ’s stance is that many challenges faced by the US sheep industry, such as internal parasites and rising input costs, are common to New Zealand farmers, suggesting a collaborative approach to market growth. With the US’s low but growing lamb consumption, there’s ample opportunity for both imported and domestically produced lamb.

Looking Ahead

As the US elections in 2024 approach, B+LNZ’s Trade Policy team remains vigilant, aiming to enhance cooperation with US sheep producers and closely monitor trade policy sentiments. B+LNZ’s efforts to improve access for New Zealand’s sheep and beef products to overseas markets continue, with a focus on fostering mutual interests and growth opportunities.