Exports took a tumble but the value of imports fell even more dramatically in the latest overseas trade figures.
Last month, exports were down $552 million from a year before, totalling $5.4 billion.
But Stats NZ said imports were down too, falling $1.2b to $7.1b compared to October last year.
Aluminium and its related products were star export performers, more than doubling to $72 million.
Infant formula exports were up by $52m to $183m year-on-year.
But cheese was down 11 per cent, with exports valued at $199m.
China led the monthly fall in exports but exports to Australia were also well down on a year earlier.
Sugar and sugar confectionery imports were up 84 per cent ($30m) and Kiwis were also spending more on imported cereal.
Imports for machinery, vehicle, and fodder-related categories were all down by more than $100m.
Mechanical machinery and equipment imports plunged by $132m or 11 per cent to $1.0 billion.
Total imports from China were down $353m year-on-year.
Stats NZ said the monthly trade balance was a deficit of $1.7b. The annual trade deficit was $14.8 billion.
Annual goods exports were $69.7b, down $1.2 billion from a year earlier.
And annual goods imports were valued at $84.5 billion, down $266 million from the previous year.
New Zealand has not had a trade surplus since April 2021.
But the annual deficit reduced slightly to $14.81b compared to $15.41b in September.