Lamb exports climb to record levels

Lamb exports reached record levels in February 2019, bumping up overall meat exports to a new monthly high.

Stats NZ said lamb exports were $391 million in February 2019 - a new record for any month. The previous high was in May 2018 ($367 million).

The February rise was driven by higher prices, as quantity was little changed from May last year, Stats NZ said.

"Lamb prices peaked in October last year and remain at high levels," said acting international statistics manager Dave Adair.

"This is consistent with high lamb prices in the supermarket."

Beef exports were up $43 million in February 2019 to reach $311 million, compared with the same month a year ago. 

Lamb exports climb to record levels
Photo credit: Stats NZ

"While both value and quantity are up, the rise was mainly due to increased quantities," Adair said.

Overall, meat exports reached a record $839 million in February 2019, due to the high lamb export values. The previous high for meat exports was in March 2015 ($827 million).

Overall goods exports were up $371 million (8.3 percent) to $4.8 billion, compared with the same month last year.

Milk powder, butter, and cheese - our largest commodity group - was up $263 million in February to $1.3 billion.

Milk powder led this rise, up $155 million (28 percent). This increase was quantity driven (23 percent), with exports to China up $87 million.

Untreated logs and preparations of milk, cereals, flour, and starch were also main contributors to the rise.