A positive year for red meat exports

2014 was a positive year for New Zealand’s red meat exports, according to recent Meat Industry Association (MIA) analysis, with beef exports growing in value and volume and an increase in the value of sheepmeat exports.

In the year ending 31 December 2014, New Zealand exported a total of $6.89 billion worth of red meat and co-products, some $580 million more than in 2013.

Matt Conway, MIA policy analyst.According to MIA policy analyst Matt Conway, a large reason for the overall increase was a growth in both the volume and value of beef exports from New Zealand during the year, which totalled 400,000 tonnes, worth $2.48 billion for the year.

“A significant feature of the overall beef exports was the high volume of beef that was sent to the US in 2014, largely as a result of shortages of beef in the US,” he says.

“In 2014, New Zealand’s beef exports to the United States were up 19 percent by volume to nearly 204,000 tonnes and 32 percent by value to just under $1.2 billion compared to the previous year.”

Figure one below, showing the top 10 beef markets by value for the 12 months ended 31 December 2014, highlights the importance of the US for the New Zealand meat industry.

Figure 1 - Top 10 beef markets by value, 12 months ended 31 December 2014

This demand for beef in the US did result in a drop in beef exports to some other important markets during the year, specifically Japan, notes Conway.

“Exports to another important beef market, Korea, were relatively steady, and a significant achievement for the industry was the finalising of the long-running free trade agreement negotiations between New Zealand and Korea.”

For sheepmeat, the volume of exports in 2014 was virtually unchanged from 2013 at just under 400,000 tonnes, but the value of these exports grew by 10 percent to $3 billion, reflecting an improvement in global prices during the year.

The largest market, both by volume (158,000 tonnes) and value ($807 million), was China.

“Growth in sheepmeat, and beef, exports to China continued in 2014, but at a more moderate rate compared to 2012 and 2013,” says Conway. “This growth was partly offset by a decline in exports of some co-products to China. The trend in overall industry exports to China is highlighted in figure two, which shows New Zealand meat industry exports to China (rolling 12 month FOB value).”

Figure2 - NZ meat industry exports to China – Rolling 12 month FOB value

While the overall industry exports to China have plateaued to some extent, the growth in exports over the last few years has been significant, says Conway.

“Over a short period of time, China has become one the industry’s major markets and, as highlighted in the February/March edition of FoodNZ, work to strengthen the whole of industry relationships with China was a major focus of industry activity last year.”

Although the US and China are two of New Zealand’s major markets, the industry exported products to more than 120 countries last year.

Europe, for example, continues to be a very important region, in particular for high value chilled lamb. Seventy percent of New Zealand’s chilled lamb exports went to Europe and the UK last year – 47,000 tonnes of the product worth $554 million.

In addition to beef and sheepmeat, the meat industry produces a wide range of co-products, such as tallow, meat and bone meal, hides and skins, edible offal and sausage casings, which make a significant contribution to maximising the value extracted from each carcase.

“Exports of co-products generated a further $1.4 billion in export revenue in 2014,” Conway says.

In summary, the global demand for red meat and improved prices meant that 2014 was a positive year for New Zealand’s red meat exports.

This article has appeared in Food NZ magazine (April/May 2015) and is reproduced here with permission.


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