Lamb prices have set a March record, having hit more than $7 a kilo during the past fortnight.

While the outlook is strong for the remainder of the New Zealand season, the risks associated with a worldwide trade war, spurred by new US metal tariffs, is casting a long shadow on other sectors.

All New Zealand's key export markets were paying 15% or more so far this season, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said.

Lamb prices had bucked the normal seasonal pattern and had lifted beyond $7 during the past four weeks, which might be the highest price paid in March.


AgriHQ reports said procurement pressures had driven the recent rise in lamb prices, he said.

''It may have been that recent rains have led to lower slaughter rates, and so to entice farmers back to market processors have had to lift prices,'' Mr Penny said.

Underlying demand was ''solid'' and the fact processors were willing to pay higher prices indicated they had the ability to pass that cost on.

Mr Penny highlighted the Chinese and US markets in particular, describing them as ''robust'', not only delivering higher prices but also increases in their respective lamb import volumes.

''We expect lamb prices to remain very strong over the remainder of this season and to also start the new season at healthy levels.

''However, the growing risk of a global trade war could put a damper on prices later in the year,'' Mr Penny said.

Wool prices had also lifted 1.5% but dairy prices had slid 0.6% because of lower whole milk powder and milk fat prices.