News

New Zealand lamb production up as the season closes

Sheep Central, November 2, 2015
Sheep on Nithdale Station on New Zealand's North Island

Sheep on Nithdale Station on New Zealand’s North Island

NEW Zealand’s seasonal lamb production to the end of August increased by 2 percent compared to last year, Meat and Livestock Australia has reported.

Although lamb production in August was 5pc lower than year-ago levels, at 13,927 tonnes, with the NZ season usually ending in September, lamb production for the season-to-date (October 2014 to August 2015) was 367,112 tonnes – up 2pc on the corresponding period the previous year.

Underpinning NZ’s lower August production was a 3pc drop in slaughter compared to last year, at 703,523 head. The number of lambs processed for the season-to-August totalled 20.4 million head – 3pc higher year-on-year.

MLA said AgriHQ recently reported that, although lamb supply is currently seasonally tight, lamb kills have lifted slightly over the past couple of weeks, as producers offload any remaining old season lambs before they cut their teeth. Although, many reportedly did not meet the requirements for the chilled Christmas trade, which is not unusual for the tail-end of the season, MLA said.

The majority of NZ’s lamb production for the month was in the North Island, at 10,277 tonnes cwt (back 4pc year-on-year), while South Island production was 6pc lower, at 3700 tonnes.

NZ exporters to focus on diversifying markets

According to AgriHQ, NZ exporters will focus on diversifying markets for the new season, as key markets continue to underperform in the short to medium-term.

AgriHQ has report that chilled lamb sales remain the focus in the UK, while frozen lamb sales are subdued, with little change expected for some time. As most of NZ’s lamb legs are usually sold to the UK, exporters have had to find alternative markets to sell frozen leg as a result. Other European countries, however, have showed solid interest and frozen trade to these markets is expected to be positive.

There has reportedly been greater demand from China, although prices are yet to show any upward movement.

Sources: MLA, AgriHQ, Statistics New Zealand.

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