Report shows meat sector weathering coronavirus storm

New figures show the value of New Zealand red meat exports has climbed, despite some market uncertainty caused the coronavirus outbreak.

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $873.2 million in January 2020, an increase of 26 percent compared to January 2019, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

MIA chief executive, Tim Ritchie said market prices achieved in January were stronger than the same month last year, and underlined the resilience of New Zealand's red meat sector and its global networks.

"Despite disruptions to the supply chain caused by the coronavirus, the underlying global demand for protein remains strong.

"New Zealand's red meat sector exports to 120 countries around the world and that international network of customers has enabled the industry to respond quickly and divert product to other markets," said Ritchie.

 However, he sounded a note of caution, saying the resilience shouldn't be taken for granted. 

Tim Ritchie said the figures showed the resilence of New Zealand's red meat sector.
Tim Ritchie said the figures showed the resilence of New Zealand's red meat sector. Photo credit: Supplied

"The red meat sector is a key driver of prosperity for the New Zealand economy and underpins countless regional communities. We need policy settings which recognise this contribution."

 Ritchie said the sector had been able to rapidly divert product into other markets as the coronavirus-related slowdown became apparent.

 Overall, exports of sheepmeat and beef increased 10 percent in January by volume, compared to December 2019. Although beef exports to China, Japan and Korea fell, a similar volume was still exported globally.

 The volume of beef exports to the US increased by 38 percent and to Canada by 48 percent month-on-month. Sheepmeat export volumes to China grew four percent on December and increased 23 percent globally, including to the UK (+22 percent), US (+16 percent) and Saudi Arabia (+250 percent).

 China remained the highest value red meat and co-products market in January, totalling 40 percent of NZ exports, worth $351 million. 

The US was next with $156.5 million, followed by the UK with $48.7 million. Values increased in almost all markets, with significant growth in Germany ($34.8 million) and Japan ($33.8 million).