New Zealand sheepmeat and beef prices have fallen by about half since hitting record highs last year, with the outbreak of coronavirus in China adding fuel to the decline.
Prices were on a roll throughout most of last year, hitting records going into the fourth quarter, but Chinese government intervention, followed by the outbreak, and increased competition from other beef exporters, have seen them come off by about 50 per cent.
"There has been a price correction - there is no doubt about that - but prices are by and large comparable to this time last year," Danny Hailes, general manager livestock and shareholder services for Alliance Group, the country's biggest sheepmeat exporter, said.
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The extended Chinese New Year holiday officially ended on Monday but the situation in China remained "fluid", Hailes said.
There was congestion at some Chinese ports due to manning issues, and there was a degree of congestion at warehouses there.
Hailes said Alliance's meatworks were functioning normally, but that flooding at Mataura had meant the co-op had to make adjustments.
Farmers were supplying stock as normal, although more stock was being offered at those parts of the country currently suffering from drought.
Hailes said Alliance was happy with the level of inventory it was carrying.
Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said the association was maintaining a watching brief on China.
He said the Chinese Government's decision to extend the Chinese New Year holiday had created an artificial situation.
"Clearly the demand for 'eating out' food has been reduced but it has been countered by increased demand through retail and e-commerce," he said.
"It's going to take a while to get back to normality to see what the real impact of it is," Ritchie said.
"I think that, clearly, with the extended holiday there is congestion in the distribution system."
Ritchie said the underlying fundamental in China - greater demand for protein after African Swine Fever depleted pork supplies - remained the same.
"It's the disruption that is more of a short-term issue."
Meat is New Zealand's second biggest merchandise export and China is its biggest trading partner.