Latest export figures from Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) show New Zealand’s red meat exports (excluding veal and
co-products) were up $1.2 billion (21 per cent) on 2016-17 to over $6.7 billion in 2017-18 on the back of sustained high
value per tonne and increased volume for lamb, mutton, and beef.
“While the highlights of the season were record high average values per tonne for lamb and mutton, the average value of
beef exports remained high since the marked increase in 2014-15,” says B+LNZ’s Chief Economist Andrew Burtt.
“Good farm-gate prices and strong average values per tonne for exports occurred throughout the season, even during the
fast start to the processing season driven by the dry conditions in December 2017.”
Total lamb exports were over $3.1 billion, up 25 per cent on 2016-17 and 28 per cent higher than the five-year average,
with the average value of lamb exports staying over $10,000 per tonne for the entire season. While these levels were
reached on occasion in 2010-11 and 2011-12, it was not sustained across the entire season.
Total mutton exports benefitted from limited international supply and strong demand to reach $618 million, up 46 per
cent on 2016-17.
Increasing demand for sheepmeat from China, particularly mutton, and tight supply from Australia and New Zealand,
increased competition for New Zealand’s sheepmeat. Limited international availability of mutton drove improved value for
sub-primal cuts of lamb, which began in mid-2016-17, and lifted the overall average value of lamb exports.
In comparison with lamb and mutton, increases in the volume and value of beef exports this season may seem subdued, but
total beef exports exceeded $3 billion, up 14 per cent on 2016-17 and up 17 per cent on the five-year average.
The average value of beef exports has remained steady and strong since the 2014-15 season, driven by demand from the
United States for lean manufacturing beef.
However, in 2017-18 China overtook the United States as New Zealand’s largest red meat export market by value and
volume. China accounted for one-third of New Zealand’s red meat exports as the trend of an increasing share of New
Zealand’s beef exports continued, combined with lifts in the share of lamb and mutton exported.
The United States remains New Zealand’s largest beef export market, but the total share of beef decreased two percentage
points to 47 per cent.