The weakness of global red meat markets has been graphically illustrated by the 14% decline in the value of October sales compared to a year earlier.
Data released by the Meat Industry Association (MIA) shows New Zealand exported $605 million worth of meat in October, back 14% overall – and led by a staggering 31% drop in exports to China, worth $191m.
Farmgate prices for sheepmeat are well back on last year, reflecting the weak global demand that is evident in the October data.
While sheepmeat export volumes in the month grew 17% to 26,170 tonnes compared to a year earlier, the value fell 6% to $264m.
The largest drop was in China, where values fell 20% to $97m helped by a 37% increase in sheepmeat sales from Australia.
Beef volumes were similar to last year but the value fell 13% to $228m.
Exports to the United States rose 22% to $61m and by 65% to Canada at $15m, but this was not sufficient to offset returns from exports to China, Japan and Korea.
Fifth-quarter sales fell 28% to $123m despite an 11% increase in offal and 8% for meat and bone meal.
MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said weak global consumer demand was accentuated by increased competition from Brazilian beef and Australian lamb.
In the past three months Australia has exported 30,000t more sheepmeat than a year earlier.
“After a period of flock rebuilding, Australia is now going through a liquidation phase, which has been exacerbated by dry conditions in parts of Australia in recent months.”
Canada continued to be a strong market for NZ red meat with exports increasing 57% to $34m, while exports to the United Kingdom also rose, up 44% to $23m.
“This was partly due to the recovery in sheepmeat exports from the low levels of last October, but it was also due to the steady growth of beef exports under the NZ-UK Free Trade Agreement.”
Meat exports to the US fell 4% to $126m and there was also a 27% drop in the value of exports to Australia, mainly beef, as a result of the increased domestic production there.