4 November 2020    New Zealand’s red meat sector continued to demonstrate its agility in the third quarter with exports to the United States growing by 50 per cent over the three months from July to September compared to a year earlier.

Total exports to the US reached $400 million for the quarter, closely followed by a 42 per cent rise to the UK ($71m) and Germany, a 25 per cent increase to $70m.

The growth in the third quarter offset a 25 per cent decline to China ($530m) although the value of sheepmeat and beef exports to China remains at an historically high level. Overall, exports in the third quarter were $1.69 billion, unchanged from the same period in 2019.

For the year ending September 2020, exports were up eight per cent to $9.39 billion compared to the previous year. The value of exports to nearly all of the top 10 markets (except the Netherlands) increased.

In the September month, overall red meat exports were worth $501 million, down six per cent from September 2019. Both China and Japan were down, but there were increases to United States, Germany and UK. Sheepmeat exports to the US, Germany and the UK rose, as did beef exports to the US and Canada.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said the trade data was positive, especially given the volatility as a result of COVID-19.

“There has been some shift from chilled to frozen product for sheepmeat as the industry pivoted away from the challenging food service sector into retail and e-commerce.

“There was also some re-balancing to other markets from the record levels that were going to China last year. This demonstrates the industry’s ability to adjust product specifications and destinations to meet the demand from our global markets.

“There are indications that demand in China will continue to increase and we anticipate strong buying patterns as China prepares for its Chinese New Year celebrations next year.

“The red meat processing and exporting sector has been a real success story during the COVID-19 crisis and continues to generate crucial export revenue for the country when other sectors are facing significant headwinds.

“However, we cannot be complacent. We are yet to see the full economic and social impact of COVID-19. With the UK, Europe and parts of the US going into a second lockdown, we can expect further disruptions in our global markets.

“We are also concerned about potential disruptions to shipping lines from Europe, the impact of the last drought in New Zealand and the prospect of extreme dry conditions in the coming months. This means the uncertainty and volatility will continue for some time.”