More uncertainty and challenges are the theme of MPI’s latest publication on the outlook for the primary sector.
Total exports reached $1.1 billion in March 2020, an increase of 12% on March 2019.
While overall exports to China during the month were down by 9% compared to March 2019 as a result of COVID-19, exports to all other major markets increased.
Sheepmeat export volumes were up 4% and value up 13% compared with last March. And while sheepmeat exports to China were down 11% by volume compared to March 2019, they still recovered significantly from February – doubling to nearly 25,000 tonnes.
A decrease in sheepmeat exports to the United States was offset by a significant increase in exports to Malaysia, up 131% to 3,310 tonnes.
There was a similar increase in beef exports, up 3% by volume and 14% by value. China was the only major market where beef exports decreased compared to March 2019. But, as with sheepmeat, they recovered significantly from February – doubling to 13,408 tonnes.
Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, says the latest figures highlights the New Zealand red meat sector’s strong global networks and agility.
“These statistics are pleasing, especially given the challenges and disruption to the supply chain as a result of COVID-19. Some channels such as the food service sector have been significantly impacted. Processing and exporting companies have been agile enough to pivot to other markets and other segments such as retail and online channels.
“This strong export performance is also due to processing and exporting companies working hard under challenging conditions and strict COVID-19 processing protocols to keep their businesses operating.
“There is clearly strong global demand for protein, however we are also mindful of the considerable global volatility and uncertainty in the marketplace.”
Karapeeva says now, more than ever, the red meat sector is proving how important it is to the New Zealand economy.