Beef export returns trump sheepmeat returns for first time in 20 years

2014-2015 lamb, mutton and beef & veal exportsThe 2014-15 meat export season finished on 30 September 2015 and analysis by Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service shows that New Zealand beef export returns reached a record high, exceeding lamb and mutton returns for the first time in 20 years. It is worth noting, however, that sheepmeat returns were constrained by supply.

Record high export beef volumes, average value and returns

New Zealand beef and veal exports generated $3.2 billion in 2014-15, up 39 percent compared with the previous season. This reflected an increase in both shipments
(+10 percent) and average value (+26 percent).

Driven by high beef prices, mainly due to strong US demand and low dairy prices, New Zealand beef production increased significantly in 2014-15. Beef exports averaged $7,510 per tonne in 2014-15 compared with $5,970 in the previous season. In the 35 years since records have been kept, the average value of New Zealand beef exports has not exceeded $6,000 per tonne.

Demand was particularly strong in North America and North Asia, where exports increased by 22 percent and seven percent, respectively, while shipments to every other region declined. The two largest export markets were the US and China. While the US has traditionally been the largest market for New Zealand beef exports, China became the country’s second largest market three years ago.

A drop in lamb exports and a rise in the average value

Despite an increase in lamb production in the 2014-15 season, New Zealand lamb exports were down two percent. However, this was offset by a rise in the average value of lamb exports (+3.4 percent).

New Zealand lamb export returns reached $2.6 billion in 2014-15, up 1.3 percent on the previous season. In 2014-15, half of the returns were achieved in the EU, while North Asia, the second largest export region, accounted for 21 percent of lamb export returns.

After doubling over the previous five years, New Zealand lamb shipments to North Asia decreased by 12 percent in 2014-15. This was due to more product being exported to other markets.

Mutton shipments remain high

While 2014-15 New Zealand mutton shipments were down on 2013-14 – dropping 8.8%, to 85,300 tonnes shipped weight – the shipments were still 13% higher than the five-year average. This reflects elevated levels of production and exports in 2013-14.

The combination of lower shipments and no change in the average value resulted in mutton export returns dropping nine percent to $445 million in 2014-15.

After two years of tremendous growth in mutton exports to North Asia, shipments to the region fell by 23 percent in 2014-15. This was due to a drop in export volumes of mutton carcases, which accounted for 22 percent of mutton shipments to North Asia, down from 41 percent in 2013-14.

Please note that all values quoted are FOB (free on board) and in New Zealand dollars.

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