Value of annual meat exports climbs

New figures show exports of sheep, beef and co-products increased by 8 percent in the year to June, with exports to China leading the way.

The latest analysis from the Meat Industry Association said exports rose by $8.8 billion for the year to June 2019.

More than 399,470 tonnes of sheepmeat was dispatched, similar to 2018 volumes but the value of these exports increased by 6 percent.

For beef, export volumes were up by 9 percent to more than 453,202 tonnes with a 13 percent increase in value. Co-products exports increased by 5 percent.

For the month of June, beef exports to China increased to more than 25,000 tonnes, more than the annual exports to Taiwan, Japan or Korea.

The volume of beef exports to Japan also increased by 10 percent compared to June 2018. 

While the overall volume of sheepmeat was down for the month compared to last year - including exports to China, the value of exports to China increased by 20 percent.

China remains the largest market by value for red meat and co-products with $319m exported to the country in the month of June 2019, followed by the US and UK.

Chief executive of the Meat Industry Association (MIA)Tim Ritchie, said China had again been the lead performer in the last 12 months.

"China has taken more than half of New Zealand's sheepmeat exports and beef exports have increased by 79 percent by volume, overtaking the US as our largest beef market," he said.

"It's also very pleasing to see we're getting more bang for our buck off sheepmeat exports with value up 6 percent on last year despite volumes remaining the same," said Ritchie.

The weaker UK market in the last 12 months, with overall value down by 11 percent reflected continuing uncertainty over Brexit, he said.

"Overall, this is an outstanding result for the sector delivering value for all New Zealanders.  As the country's second-largest goods exporter and largest manufacturing sector, the red meat sector is critical to New Zealand's prosperity."

He said the sector directly employees some 25,000 people, mainly in regional New Zealand, supporting the livelihoods of families and rural communities. 

"That means these export figures are good news not only for our national economy, but for regional New Zealand."