Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Beef exports boom

Neal Wallace
August export figures confirm a trend of growing global demand for out-of-season meat.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

August export figures confirm a trend of growing global demand for out-of-season meat.

Meat Industry Association figures show demand for beef has underpinned a 26% increase in NZ red meat exports for August, worth $650m, a 39% increase on August last year.

Beef volumes were 71% higher but while sheep volumes fell 7%, prices were 10% higher.

For the first time since the 1980s the volume of NZ lamb shipped to the United Kingdom was less than 1000 tonnes for a month.

Exports to the UK totalled 977 tonnes, representing a drop of 52% on a year earlier, while exports to China and the United States increased.

AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad says the higher red meat export volumes confirm trends she has been observing.

“It highlights what we have been seeing, more red meat exports in the off-season and markets are prepared to pay for it.”

Much of that higher demand is driven by the re-emergence of the food service sector since April.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says NZ exported 35,327 tonnes of beef during August, 71% more than the average monthly export volume for the last 30 years.

Volumes exported to China were 89% higher and the US and Japan were both 31% greater.

“A number of factors are contributing to tight global beef supplies,” she says. 

“This includes herd rebuilding in Australia and export restrictions in Argentina.”

China’s decision to halt imports of Brazilian beef, due to detections of atypical BSE, was not reflected in the August data but Karapeeva says it may have an impact in the next few months.

Sheepmeat export volumes for the month dropped 7% compared to August 2020 but increased in value by 10% to $205m.

The largest increases were to China, up 46% to $94m, and the US up 85% to $33m.

Karapeeva says this pushed the average value of sheepmeat exports to $11.43/kg for the month, the first time it had topped $11/kg since late-2019, when Chinese demand driven by African Swine Fever significantly pushed up prices.

Croad says pricing prospects for the new lamb season look favourable.

While farm gate prices will be subject to the usual seasonal fluctuation, Croad says they are starting from a higher than usual level.

“This means that despite any downside, prices will still be well above average heading into summer.”

Beef export figures reflect earlier than usual kill patterns which could impact the availability of spring cattle.

Croad says some farmers are changing their systems to try and supply late winter or early spring markets and capture higher returns.

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