New Zealand (NZ) lamb exports for the 2011-12 export season (October 2011 to September 2012) remained relatively steady on the corresponding period in 2010-11, dropping just 1%, or 2,313 tonnes swt, to 263,577 tonnes swt (Beef + Lamb NZ).
While still recovering from the devastating lamb crop losses in 2010, flock rebuilding efforts continued throughout several key production regions, restricting the availability of export lambs.
Furthermore, improved seasonal conditions since summer allowed producers to carry more stock through to heavier weights to help offset reduced schedule prices, which were hampered by the increased flock numbers and the strong NZ$.
The EU remained the largest export destination throughout the season, despite shipments slipping 14% year-on-year, to 111,079 tonnes swt.
As a result, the region’s share of NZ lamb exports fell 6% over the same period, to 42% – signalling the recent decline in the EU’s position as a lamb export market.
However, the EU continues to be a highly valued destination, as returns from these shipments accounted for 55% of the value of NZ lamb exports for the season (Beef + Lamb NZ).
Similarly, the overall reduced supply of NZ lamb and slow economic activity in North America saw exports to the US fall 15% year-on-year, to 14,891 tonnes swt.
As much as trading activity has dropped in the traditionally large lamb markets (EU and US), the strength of markets in the Middle East and Greater China saw NZ product being absorbed in other areas, albeit at lower prices.
Exports to the Middle East surged 41% year-on-year, to 32,656 tonnes swt, while shipments to Greater China jumped 27% over the same period, to 58,272 tonnes swt.
While Australian exports increased 8% from October 2011 to September 2012, the growing shipments to the Middle East and China have firmly increased the competition between NZ and Australian lamb exporters, particularly in the forequarters and flaps that are being directed to these markets.
Both the Australian and NZ traders are finding conditions within the traditional lamb markets of the EU and the US increasingly difficult, with economic uncertainty and exchange rate movements significantly reducing farm gate prices.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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