Global sheep round-up: Rain in Australia pushes production down, while COVID disrupts Asian demand

Thursday, 3 September 2020

By Rebecca Wright

This year New Zealand production of sheep meat has increased year-on-year despite COVID-19 disruptions. Between January and July total production stood at 291,500 tonnes. The increase is largely driven by an uplift in mutton production.

Usually this would be the time of year when New Zealand lamb farmgate prices begin to pick up, but this year they have not. Although down year-on-year, prices are still strong compared to pre-2017 levels. After losing strength though much of the past two years, the New Zealand dollar has gained strength against the US dollar over the past six months which may have limited export prices. Click here to view how New Zealand farmgate prices currently compare to British and European farmgate prices.

New Zealand exports of sheep meat during the first seven months of 2020 have reflected production trends, recording a small rise to 265,700 tonnes. There was a small increase to both the UK and China. Shipments to the Netherlands and US recorded significant declines. This was offset however by rises to some Asian markets including Malaysia and Taiwan.

Lack of Australian product on the market

Although New Zealand has been able to maintain export volumes, the same cannot be said for Australia. Production in Australia declined almost 42,000 tonnes during the first six months of 2020. The decline is almost entirely due to farmers restocking and rebuilding flocks after the severe drought.

Rebecca Wright

Analyst - Red Meat

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