New Zealand’s red meat exports for the 2020-21 season have remained steady despite the uncertainties and disruptions caused by Covid-19. According to the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Economic Service, the export season ended on September 30th, with a total beef and sheepmeat revenues equaled to those recorded in 2019-20, 17% above the last five-year-average.
Covid-19 effects on exports were felt especially in the first half of the season. With the global economy recovery and the roll out of vaccination programs, the increase in demand for red meat was accentuated and the season ended with prices close to record highs.
Among the main drivers of the season are the recovery of the Chinese economy, supported by the continued outbreaks of African swine fever; the rapid recovery of the US economy, with financial stimulus and strong consumer demand for red meat, combined with reduced production capacity, resulting in pressure on red protein prices; and, the strong global demand for lamb and beef which has protected export revenues, despite rising global shipping costs, with routes and delivery times suffering significant interruptions.
New Zealand beef shipments hit a record in 2020-21, 8% above the previous season and 16% above the five-year average. China accounted for 39% of these shipments, followed by the US, which imported 35% of that volume.
Lamb exports in the 2020-21 season were nearly the same as those in the previous season and the five-year average. Lamb export volumes to China represented 53% of the total shipped; European Union took 19%; UK with 17%; and, Americans with 9% of the total.
There was also an increase in the demand for mutton. With a 14% growth in shipments, New Zealand shipped 84% of its export product to China.