Global red meat markets continue tough

Drop in exports reflects both last September’s surge and tougher conditions in many key markets now.

The state of global red meat markets is reflected in the value of New Zealand exports for September, which were down 18% compared to a year earlier.

Data released by the Meat Industry Association shows red meat exports for the month were $617 million, with higher sales to Canada, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia but reductions in China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, the United States and Australia.

Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said the drop partly reflects the very high value of exports in September last year but also the difficult economic conditions in many key markets. 

“China, in particular, continues to be challenging with overall exports in September of $187 million, down 31% compared to last September. 

“We also saw a 31% decline in exports to Australia, where there have been high levels of domestic meat production and exports as Australian farmers de-stock in anticipation of expected dry conditions driven by El Niño.”

Total exports for the third quarter of this year were worth $2.1 billion, down 21% from last year, illustrating prolonged market weakness.

Sales in the quarter to China fell 42% to $642m. Japan was back 31% to $88m, Taiwan 4% to $75m and Korea 36% to $48m.

Exports for the year to September 30 were $10.2bn, down 11% on the same period last year. 

Exports over that period fell in most major markets but there were small increases in the US, up 2% to $2.4bn, and Canada, up 7% to $275m.

There were positive signs in September sales from the UK, with exports up 33% to $17m due to a recovery in sheepmeat demand compared to September last year, but also growing beef exports following the free trade agreement.

Sales in September to Saudi Arabia increased 185% to $16m, largely driven by sheepmeat, and to Canada, 16% higher at $26m. 

Sales to the US were down 3% at $142m due to a significant reduction in fifth-quarter exports, particularly tallow.

Japan was weaker, down 4% to $27m. Taiwan fell 27% to $19m and Korea by 26% to 12m.