New Zealand meat exports defied the effects of a very strong Kiwi dollar to reach a record high of $5.3 billion in 2013-14, driven by high average values, Beef and Lamb NZ said.
Analysis by Beef and Lamb New Zealand's Economic Service showed the year to September 30 was a positive one for beef, veal, lamb and mutton, with exports up by $480 million on the previous season's.
This was despite the New Zealand dollar being strong for most of the year, peaking at US88.36c in July. The currency has since retraced its steps, trading today US79c.
Beef and Lamb chief economist Andrew Burtt said that, for the second season in a row, North Asia was the largest market for New Zealand meat exports, accounting for 31 per cent of total returns, while the European Union (EU) and North America remained the primary markets for lamb and beef/veal, respectively.
The amount of lamb exported was down 3 per cent, reflecting last season's smaller lamb crop, but total returns were up 9.5 per cent to $2.52 billion.
"That's because the average per tonne value of lamb being exported rose 13 per cent to $8,300, compared to $7,400 in 2012-13," Burtt said in a market commentary.
Burtt said the EU accounted for 48 per cent of lamb returns in the 2013-14 season.
North Asia was the second largest market destination for New Zealand lamb, at 34 per cent by volume, but average returns were well below those achieved in the EU, reflecting the different product mixes exported to the two regions.
For the season just ended, the average per tonne return for North Asia was $6,000, compared to $10,200 for the EU, Burtt said.
Ninety-four per cent of lamb exports were further processed, while 22 per cent were chilled product.
The 2013-14 year was New Zealand's second largest mutton export season, at 93,000 tonnes up 11 per cent on last season mainly due to land use switching from sheep farming to dairying.
It was also the second largest beef and veal export season in history 383,000 tonnes as a result of high beef production and an increased number of dairy cows processed.
Total beef and veal returns were up 8.4 per cent to $2.29 billion, while the average value was up 2.1 per cent to $6,000 per tonne. North America accounted for 48 per cent of beef and veal returns, while North Asia accounted for 30 per cent.