Chinese New Year is among us and to the celebrate the Year of the Pig, the Herald takes a look at NZ's export figures to some of the countries enjoying the holiday.

New Zealand exports to Asia were worth $28.9 billion last year, up more than 10 per cent on the same period a year earlier, figures from Stats NZ show.

Around $13.2b of all exports to Asia went to China in the 12 months to September - $4.4b of which were dairy products and produce such as honey and eggs.

Exports to China now account for one in every five dollars of goods and services sales overseas.


After China, Japan is New Zealand's second-largest export market, followed by Korea, each receiving $3.5b and $1.7b worth of exports last year.

Sheep meat exports reached an all-time high last year, up $546 million or 17 per cent, from the previous high recorded in 2017.

China was the largest contributor to the rise in lamb export values last year, up $179m or 30 per cent, Stats NZ said.

Exports of infant products, primarily infant formula rose to $294 million last year, up 28 per cent from a previous high recorded a year before, with China the largest market to receive the product.

Dairy giant Fonterra produced and exported $3.8b worth of products to China in the 2017/18 financial year.

Waikato was Fonterra's biggest region for exports, producing $1.2b in products such as cream, cheese and milk powder sent to China.

Fonterra's Clandeboye site in Canterbury was its top producer, exporting around $566 million in products to China, followed by the Edendale site in Southland which exported nearly $560 million. Its Taranaki site exported $437m worth of products.

China is Fonterra's largest market and its exports make up nearly a quarter of all exports to China from New Zealand.


Fonterra China president Christina Zhu said cream was a growing export to China, especially around this time of the year when cream cakes were made to the celebrate the new lunar year.

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is celebrated in China, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.

"From today, Chinese families and communities across the world will be celebrating the Year of the Pig in their own way. It's one of the most important time of the year for brands in the Chinese market," Zhu said. "Chinese consumers spend up large, indulging in festive celebrations and in gifts and meals for friends and family."

Chinese consumers spent $200 billion on shopping and in restaurants during the Lunar New Year holiday last year – 10 per cent more than the year before.

Chinese consumers spent $200 billion during the Lunar New Year holidays last year. Photo / Getty
Chinese consumers spent $200 billion during the Lunar New Year holidays last year. Photo / Getty

Nick Siu, director of marketing firm The Agency 88 which specialises in Asian markets, said Chinese consumers favoured New Zealand products.

"They often reflect the people - honest, uncomplicated and authentic. This is a welcome respite for a consumer group that is hyper-sensitive to fake and forgeries," Siu said. "Whilst the major driver of purchase tends to be brand-oriented, we can never discount the impact of the perception of safety and 'naturalness' that New Zealand brings as a value proposition to the Chinese consumer's mind."

New Zealand and China signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2008 which had bolstered New Zealand exports to the country along with tourism, Siu said.

"While American and European brands have tended to dominate the wallets of the Chinese consumer over the past couple of decades, we are beginning to see a trend where young, educated consumers are now looking for something a little different... that allows them to differentiate from their peers - whether that is a NZ fashion item such as merino baby clothing, quality skincare or the traditional F&B exports such as manuka honey and wine that have been traditional easy sellers for New Zealand producers."

Year of the Pig

The Year of the Earth Pig is a good year for Kiwis to make money or start a new venture, according to feng shui master Jojo Zhou.

The pig is a symbol of wealth in Chinese culture and is the last of the 12 zodiac animals in Chinese astrology.

According to Zhou, this would be a bountiful year for those working in the finance, jewellery, telecommunications, car and other industries attributed to the "metal" element.

"The power of fortune star Wu Qu will be enhanced this year, which means there will be sufficient financial resources and new opportunities," Zhou told the Herald last month. "It will be a good year to make money, and starting a new business and financial investment is encouraged."

Performance of the stock market will be good, and Zhou predicts it will be better in the first half of the year.

The Chinese lunar calendar is based on a 12-year cycle with each year being assigned an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.