New Zealand's struggling manufacturing sector received an overall lift in the last quarter thanks to meat and dairy products, according to figures out today.

Compared with the June 2012 quarter, the value of total manufacturing sales rose 1.6 per cent to $370 million, Statistics New Zealand said today.

That was led by the 9.3 per cent ($612 million) increase in meat and dairy product manufacturing, after adjusting for seasonal effects. But when meat and dairy products are excluded, overall sales fell 1.1 per cent.

Total sales volume in the sector rose 2.6 per cent, after a 0.5 per cent increase in the June quarter.


Meat and dairy products again dominated the rise with a 13 per cent hike.

Excluding those products, overall sales volumes fell 1.4 per cent and eight of the other 12 manufacturing industries recorded falls in volumes in the quarter.

"The volume increase in meat and dairy manufacturing is reflected in the rise of export volumes for dairy and meat products, with increases of 32 per cent in dairy, and 15 per cent in meat," said industry and labour statistics manager Blair Cardno.

"Looking at the longer-term picture, the trend for manufacturing volumes has risen in the past year."

Metal product manufacturing dropped 6.9 per cent in the quarter.

Chemical, polymer, and rubber product manufacturing rose 7.3 per cent.

ASB economist Christina Leung said while Statistics New Zealand's Economic Survey of Manufacturing showed an increase in activity over the quarter, this was largely driven by dairy and meat manufacturing.

"We estimate excluding these components, manufacturing production volumes was broadly flat over Q3 on a seasonally-adjusted basis," she said.

"This is the measure which is relevant for GDP production, given StatsNZ measures dairy and meat manufacturing activity for its GDP measure based on milk solids production and slaughter numbers - both of which have eased in recent months from the high levels seen over the first half of 2012."