Meat & Livestock Australia said Statistics NZ has put NZ lamb shipments at 131,357 tonnes for the 2015-16 season up to February.
However, despite the increase in shipments so far, lighter lamb carcase weights and lower slaughter levels in 2015-16 Beef + Lamb NZ is forecasting an 8pc decline year-on-year in NZ lamb exports for the season to 277,000 tonnes.
After the first five months of the season, NZ lamb exports to China increased 15pc to 40,880 tonnes, UK shipments rose 10pc to 30,295 tonnes, exports to the United States lifted 13pc to 8516 tonnes, exporters sent 8005 tonnes of lamb to The Netherlands, up 34pc, and shipments to Germany rose 1pc to 7116 tonnes.
MLA said AgriHQ suggested a slight recovery in global market prices of late, albeit off a historically low base.
“However, in recent weeks, NZ processors have signalled a decline in prices as airfreight orders for Easter chilled lamb come to a close and processors become more exposed to the weaker frozen market.”
NZ mutton exports also up
NZ mutton exports have increasing 13pc on the previous year so far this season to 41,016 tonnes. After the first five months, NZ mutton shipments to most markets were up year-on-year, with China the exception – back 1pc to 21,598 tonnes. Mutton volumes to the UK increased 3pc to 3603 tonnes and rose by 63pc to Taiwan to 3585 tonnes.
“Similarly to lamb, total mutton exports for 2015-16 are forecast to drop 9pc year-on-year, to 78,000 tonnes, due to lower supply,” MLA said.