Exporters sold more red meat in January than the same month last year, but the value was down 7% at $858 million.
Data released by the Meat Industry Association (MIA) indicate a slow start to the year for exporters, with lower returns from most markets, including China at $344m, down 10%, the United States ($177m), down 6%, Japan ($31m), down 22%, and the United Kingdom ($30m), down 26%.
MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said China was the industry’s largest market in January, with exports worth $344m, accounting for 40% of sales of red meat and co-products for the month.
China was New Zealand’s largest sheepmeat market, worth $141m, and the beef market stood at $149m.”
Karapeeva said sheepmeat exports to China have been trending lower in recent months, compared to the very high levels when African swine fever decimated the Chinese pork industry, spurring demand for other protein products.
While the value of red meat was lower in January, total export volumes to all countries increased compared to January 2022.
Exports of sheepmeat reached 36,496t, up 18%, but dropped in value 5% compared to $343m in January 2022.
The volume of beef exports was unchanged at 42,124t, but the value dropped 11% to $358m.
Karapeeva said this still represented the second highest beef export value for any January.
“Beef exports were exceptionally good throughout 2022, and the drop in exports in January may partly be due to some uncertainty caused by the rapid change in China’s covid-19 policies in mid-December,” she said.
“We are hopeful the relaxation of the movement controls will lead to an increase in consumer demand.”
While there was an overall drop by volume and value of beef exports to the major North Asian markets (China, Japan and Korea), export volumes to the US rose by 12% to 14,320t, though the value decreased 6% to $116m.
On a positive note, there was a small increase in fifth-quarter exports, which were up 1% to $157m for the month.