New Zealand exported red meat and co-products were worth $870 million during July 2021 – a 29 per cent increase year-on-year, according to the latest analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).
More than 25,300 tonnes of sheepmeat and almost 50,000 tonnes of beef were exported with increases in the value of exports to all major North American and Asian markets.
This included a 1425 per cent increase in beef exports to Thailand compared to July 2020.
Thailand was New Zealand's 10th largest market for beef by volume during the month, at 347 tonnes.
Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said the main reason for the growth in exports to Thailand was the removal of beef safeguards that were put in place when the NZ-Thailand Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) was negotiated 15 years ago.
"That came off at the end of last year and beef exports are now tariff-free," Karapeeva said.
"So, instead of a rush of beef exports to Thailand at the start of each year to try and take advantage of the small tariff-free safeguard volume, we are now seeing companies put regular export programmes in place."
Beef exports to Thailand had been growing steadily throughout the year, Karapeeva said.
"High quality Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are critical to market diversification. This really demonstrates the importance of FTAs to facilitate open markets that help companies to invest in markets and develop strong commercial relationships."
China remained the largest market, with total exports worth $330.2 million, a 57 per cent increase on the same period last year.
The US was the second highest with $241.2 million, a 32 per cent increase, followed by Japan, up 62 per cent at $42.6 million, and Taiwan with $26.8 million, representing an 18 per cent increase.
July also saw a continuing trend in recent months of strong sheep meat exports into the United States, which increased 109 per cent year-on-year to $42 million, and beef exports into China, up 95 per cent to $156 million.
Beef exports to most major beef markets also increased.
While exports to main European destinations were down compared to July 2020, this was more than compensated for by the increased demand from other markets.
The UK dropped 25 per cent to $19 million, Germany by 28 per cent to $17 million and the Netherlands by 11 per cent to $17 million.