New Zealand's red meat sector overcame a significant drop in export volumes to achieve sales of $1.1 billion during May - a 28 per cent increase on 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).
While the volume of sheepmeat exported was six per cent down compared to last May, the value was up 23 per cent to $456 million.
Beef export volumes increased one per cent year-on-year but value grew by 34 per cent to $484m.
Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said that high values were helping to absorb the impact of continued market volatility and higher costs.
"So far this year, we have exported 183,000 tonnes of sheepmeat, which is 14 per cent less than the same period last year.
"However, the value of sheepmeat exports so far this year is $2.2 billion, which is eight per cent higher than the same period last year.
"It is a similar story for beef. So far this year, we have exported six per cent less beef than the same period for 2021, however the value of beef exports so far this year is $2.2 billion, which is 29 per cent higher than the same period last year."
Sheepmeat exports to China dropped in May compared to last year but exports to all other markets increased, particularly to the United Kingdom.
"This is why it is critically important to have quality trade deals in place that unlock as many markets as possible so companies have the flexibility to adjust and weather the headwinds," says Ms Karapeeva.
The 5,376 tonnes exported to the UK was the largest monthly volume since March 2020. However, due to the ongoing supply chain issues, only eight per cent of exports to the UK in May this year were chilled, compared to 40 per cent back in March 2020.
Despite the drop in volume, values for China remained strong during May, with the overall FoB value for sheepmeat at $12.74/kg.
Beef exports to China increased by 27 per cent year-on-year and the 20,794 tonnes was the largest monthly volume so far for 2022. The value of these exports was also up 72 per cent, to $207m.
Exports to the other major market, the United States, were down 30 per cent compared to last May. This continues the trend of lower export volumes to the United States so far this year. This can be attributed to increased domestic US production as a result of drought impacting the demand for imported beef.
However, prices for beef remained strong, and the value of exports to the US only dropped by five per cent, to $125m, compared to last May.
Beef prices in all the other major markets remained very strong, and the average FoB value increased to $10.43/kg.
It was also another strong month for co-products with exports worth $189m, up 26 per cent compared to last May.