The latest Beef and Lamb New Zealand mid-season update shows a significant fall-off in production and exports.
Production totalled 256,000t for the first half of the 2021/2022, which equates to a reduction of 14% on the corresponding period in the previous season.
The lower levels of throughput have curtailed the volume of sheepmeat available for export and, as a result, export volumes have also fallen by 14% to 200,858t.
The greatest decline in export volumes is forecast to stem from mutton, with the report predicting that mutton exports will be 3.1% lower, with lamb exports 1% lower.
There is significant variation reported in export destinations, linked to recent lockdowns in China curtailing demand and transport logistics.
Export volumes to China are running 26% lower year on year.
This is a concerning figure for the New Zealand sheepmeat sector, given that China had accounted for 50% of export volumes in the previous year.
The shortfall in export volumes to China has been compensated for by continued growth in US sheepmeat imports, with New Zealand exports there up 15% for the first six months of the season.
Exports to the EU are reported as running 18% higher, but it should be noted that this is from a lower base, with volumes of New Zealand sheepmeat entering EU markets falling to just over 40% of New Zealand’s tariff-free quota in 2021.
In contrast, exports to the UK are running 7% lower. This is being attributed to higher domestic supplies, with throughput in the UK for the year to date running 375,000 head higher at 4.23m head.