New figures show high levels of exports in May were driven by an increase from the primary sector.
In May 2019, the value of total goods exports rose $455 million (8.5 percent) from May 2018 to reach $5.8 billion.
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Exports of dairy products (the milk powder, butter, and cheese commodity group) led the rise, up $171 million (15 percent) to $1.3 billion in May 2019.
This rise was led by milk powder, up $155 million on a year earlier.
The rise was quantity-led, but unit values also rose, up 3.9 percent on May 2018. In contrast, milk fats, including butter, fell $58 million.
Stats NZ international trade analyst Dave Adair said the rise in dairy export values in recent months mainly reflected greater quantities.
"In the earlier part of the 2018/19 export season, overall quantities of dairy products were down on the same month of the previous year. In contrast, the quantities were higher for the months from November 2018," he said.
In the export season from August 2018, overall quantities of dairy exports were up around 9 percent on the same period in the previous year.
Other main contributors were food preparations (up $72 million - this commodity group includes infant formula), fruit (up $52 million), and fish (up $49 million).
In contrast, petroleum and products other than crude oil (such as liquefied natural gas and residual oils) fell $101 million from a year earlier.
Of our main export markets, China had the largest increase, up $349 million (29 percent) to $1.5 billion.
The rise was led by increases in milk powder, beef, food preparations, and logs.