Challenging economic conditions impact red meat exports

May 2023 – New Zealand red meat exports continued to reflect the difficult global economic conditions with exports in March totalling $1.1 billion, four per cent down on March 2022.

Overall, volumes of both sheepmeat and beef exports increased compared to last March, by 16 per cent and nine per cent respectively.

However, values of both decreased by eight per cent from the high levels of March last year, with sheepmeat (46,679 tonnes) down to $448 million and beef (48,628 tonnes) to $416 million.

Total exports for the first quarter of the year were worth $2.8 billion, 11 per cent down on the same period in 2022.

The value of sheepmeat and beef exports both dropped by 15 per cent, with each at $1.1 billion.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said tough economic conditions in some of New Zealand’s major markets had impacted the value of exports, particularly when compared to March 2022, when export volumes were relatively low and values relatively high, including record levels for beef.

“While there has been a decline in export values in recent months from the very high levels seen in 2022, they appear to have stabilised somewhat during the month, with the average FoB value of exports to most major markets increasing slightly compared to February.”

China remained the largest market during March, with exports relatively strong for all product, totalling $440 million and representing a 22 per cent increase on March 2022.

The Netherlands was the third largest market for the month, with exports worth $45 million, up 11 per cent.

The United States was the second largest market but exports fell 13 per cent to $244 million, with sheepmeat down in value by 36 per cent and beef exports by three per cent.

Exports to the UK fell to $32 million, 50 per cent less than last March. Exports to Germany were also $32 million, down by four per cent.

Exports to Japan fell 40 per cent for the month, to $30 million, with a significant drop in volume and value of beef exports to the market.

Co-products continued to perform well, up 20 per cent year-on-year in March, to $209 million, and eight per cent for the first quarter, to $540 million.