Exports to China top $15 billion as appetite for meat grows

Annual goods exports to China have reached $15 billion for the first time, with rising demand for beef and lamb, as well as logs and dairy products.

Stats NZ said in the year to April 2019, annual goods exports to China increased $2.7 billion (22 percent) from the April 2018 year, to reach $15 billion total.

In the year to April 2019, annual meat and edible offal exports to China were $1.5 billion, up $905 million from year ended April 2018.

International statistics manager Tehseen Islam said the increase was led by beef and lamb, with beef up $420 million and lamb up $340 million.

"The strong demand recently from the Chinese market for alternative protein sources, such as New Zealand beef and lamb, is partly due to African swine fever reducing pork production in China," he said.

The rise in total annual lamb exports was driven by the rise in the value of lamb sent to China, while traditional markets such as the EU remain similar or have shown small falls.

"We are also seeing a similar picture in the beef market," Islam said.

"The value of beef exports to China nearly doubled in the year to April 2019 compared with the previous year."

Logs also contributed to the exports rise to China, up $514 million to reach $2.5 billion in the year to April 2019.

Milk powder was also up $501 million to $2.4 billion.

Goods export values to China rose 22 percent in the 12 months to April 2019 and now account for nearly half of all exports to Asia, and about a quarter of all New Zealand's exports.