Coronavirus: NZ lamb is largely being diverted towards the Middle East not Europe

Thursday, 12 March 2020

By Rebecca Wright

There were concerns that New Zealand sheep meat originally destined for China might be diverted towards Europe due to the on-going coronavirus situation in China. However, reports from New Zealand have confirmed that so far at least, the diverted product has mainly headed towards the Middle East. Other reports have suggested that although there are still logistical difficulties at Chinese ports, products are now starting to move again.

Potential shipping times and container availability

It would be premature to suggest that there is no chance of additional product coming to Europe, although the quantity may be limited. So far this year imports have actually been lower. If New Zealand lamb were to be diverted from China to Europe, the shipping time is several weeks. It’s 6 weeks journey time from New Zealand to the UK, and varies between 5 and 8 weeks or more from China. Anything aimed for the European Easter market would need to have been on route a fortnight ago.

An issue not just affecting the sheep industry, but almost all industries, is shipping container availability. Chinese ports are still somewhat backlogged. This means containers are not being emptied and therefore not available for use again. The shipping industry already tends to work at near max capacity especially with regards to refrigerated containers.


Image of staff member Rebecca Wright

Rebecca Wright

Analyst - Red Meat

See full bio

Sign up for regular updates

You can subscribe to receive Beef and Lamb market news straight to your inbox. Simply fill in your contact details on our online form.

Visit the Keep in touch page

While AHDB seeks to ensure that the information contained on this webpage is accurate at the time of publication, no warranty is given in respect of the information and data provided. You are responsible for how you use the information. To the maximum extent permitted by law, AHDB accepts no liability for loss, damage or injury howsoever caused or suffered (including that caused by negligence) directly or indirectly in relation to the information or data provided in this publication.

All intellectual property rights in the information and data on this webpage belong to or are licensed by AHDB. You are authorised to use such information for your internal business purposes only and you must not provide this information to any other third parties, including further publication of the information, or for commercial gain in any way whatsoever without the prior written permission of AHDB for each third party disclosure, publication or commercial arrangement. For more information, please see our Terms of Use and Privacy Notice or contact the Director of Corporate Affairs at info@ahdb.org.uk  © Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. All rights reserved. 

×