There's been a swift and positive response from the red meat and dairy sectors to the Government's belated announcement to free up visa arrangements for up to 9,000 migrant workers in the primary sector.
MIA Chief Executive Sirma Karapeeva said it was only the second time that monthly red meat exports had topped the billion dollar mark.
“The first time our monthly exports hit the billion dollar mark was in March 2020 at the start of the global pandemic. The March 2021 month’s $1.04b export earnings confirm the strong global demand for safe, quality red meat. It also suggests that some of the initial COVID-19-related disruptions are starting to resolve as countries get on top of the virus.”
China was the major destination for New Zealand red meat in March, taking 45% of total exports worth $464 million. This was 35% higher than the same period last year.
New Zealand sheepmeat exports to China also increased to a record monthly volume of 36,434 tonnes.
Overall, China imported 294,410 tonnes of red meat from all countries in March 2021, with sheepmeat imports increasing by 106 per cent, Beef imports were steady. New Zealand’s share of sheepmeat and beef imports was around 19%.
“Despite supply chain issues, China is largely back to normal with strong consumption and demand and this is great news for our sector,” says Karapeeva.
“Chinese consumers are seeking attributes such as high food safety standards, wellness and nutrition from the food they buy. New Zealand’s excellent reputation means we are in a strong position to respond to this demand.”
The strong demand from China has been driven by the ongoing impact of Asian Swine Fever on Chinese pig herds which saw domestic pork supply reduce by at least 20 million tonnes in 2020.
Exports to China over the last 12 months remained the same at $3.6 billion while exports to the United States, the second largest market, increased by eight per cent to $1.8 billion. Exports to the next two largest markets, the UK and Japan, decreased to $406 million and $374 million respectively.
While exports to most other markets were down year-on-year, this was largely due to current Chinese demand and a return to more typical export destinations. In March 2020, the COVID-19 disruptions saw exports, which would normally have been destined for China, diverted to other international markets.
Red meat exports for the first quarter of 2021 were worth $2.7 billion.
“Although there are some significant logistical and other ongoing global challenges, the red meat sector continues to deliver for New Zealand farmers and the economy,” says Karapeeva.