Beef holds steady but sheepmeat down in tough markets

3 August 2023 – New Zealand red meat exports declined 12 per cent in value in June compared to the same period last year as global markets remained volatile.

Red meat exports reached $935 million in June with sheepmeat dropping in volume and value to most of the country’s major markets but beef exports holding relatively steady. Compared to last June, the value of overall exports decreased by 21 per cent to China to $302m, 41 per cent to Japan to $41m and 23 per cent to the United Kingdom to $34m.

However, there were significant increases in overall exports to Taiwan, Canada and the United States. Exports to the US were driven by beef, which was up 60 per cent by volume to 21,673 tonnes and 43 per cent by value to $200m, the highest monthly value since March 2015.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said the drop in sheepmeat volumes reflected tough conditions in many markets while the improved US results indicated easing of the drought in that country, resulting in a reduction in domestic beef production and a tightening supply.

“We are also now seeing the benefits of NZ’s Free Trade Agreement with the UK, which came into force on 31 May.

“Overall, beef exports to the UK were worth $3.3 million in June. Previously, beef exports would have likely been under one of the quotas with a tariff rate of 20 per cent, so we have already seen tariff savings of around $650,000 in the first month of the FTA.”


Total beef exports were up 12 per cent on June 2022 to 52,773 tonnes but the value was down three per cent to $477m. Beef exports to most of the major North Asian markets were down in June compared to the same time last year – reflecting the pattern of recent months.

China was down 26 per cent to $158m, Japan down 48 per cent to $23m and Korea down 70 per cent to $8m. This compares to historically very high exports to Japan and Korea in June 2022 but the value of exports is still below most recent June months. Taiwan saw a 35 per cent increase to $21m and Canada a 247 per cent increase to $18m from a very low level of exports last June.


Sheepmeat exports were down 20 per cent by volume to 25,369 tonnes and 28 per cent by value to $281m. Exports to China dropped by 21 per cent in value (to $89.4m) compared to June last year. However, sheepmeat exports to Taiwan, where consumer confidence is reported to be at its highest level since May 2022, rose 51 per cent by volume to 857 tonnes and 46 per cent by value to $10m.

Fifth quarter

Fifth quarter exports were down two per cent to $176m compared to June last year.

Second quarter exports totals

Total red meat exports for the second quarter of the year were worth $3.0 billion, down five per cent from the second quarter last year. Beef exports were unchanged at $1.4 billion, sheepmeat exports were worth $1.1 billion, down 14 per cent, and fifth quarter exports were unchanged at $540m.

Total exports for the 12 months ended 30 June 2023 were worth $10.8 billion, down one per cent from 2021/22. Beef exports were up one per cent to $4.6 billion, sheepmeat exports were down eight per cent to $3.9 billion and fifth quarter exports were up eight per cent to $2.2 billion.