New Zealand's red meat exports increased by more than a quarter in August compared to the previous year, according to an analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).
Overall exports for August 2021 reached $650 million with the 26 per cent increase largely driven by growth in beef exports, up 39 per cent to $299m year-on-year.
Exports to the top three beef markets all increased, with China up 89 per cent to $117m, the United States by 31 per cent to $102m and Japan by 31 per cent to $15 million.
Volumes of beef exported during August were also historically high, with a number of factors contributing to tight global supplies, including herd rebuilding in Australia and export restrictions in Argentina, MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said.
New Zealand exported a total of 35,327 tonnes during August, which was 71 per cent higher than the average beef export volume for the month over the last 30 years, Karapeeva said.
"In early September, China halted imports of Brazilian beef, due to detections of atypical BSE in two cattle in Brazil. This did not affect the August imports but it may have an impact on trade over the next few months. Brazil is the largest beef exporter to China and our understanding is that the situation is not fully resolved yet."
Sheepmeat export volumes dropped by seven per cent compared to August 2020, but increased in value by 10 per cent, to $205m.
The largest increases were to China, up 46 per cent to $94m, and the United States, up 85 per cent to $33m.
The high value of these two markets meant the overall average value of Free on Board,
(FOB) sheepmeat exports was $11.43/kg for the month, Karapeeva said.
Free on Board refers to the quoted price for the goods delivered to the ship for shipment.
This was the first time the average FOB value had topped $11/kg in a month since late-2019, when Chinese demand driven by African Swine Fever significantly pushed up prices, Karapeeva said.
While sheepmeat exports to China and the United States increased, export volumes to most other markets decreased, with the 977 tonnes to the UK representing a drop of 52 per cent year on year.
This was the first time since detailed Stats NZ data became available in the 1980s that export volumes to the UK dropped below 1000 tonnes in a single month.
Karapeeva said that while ongoing shipping delays affecting shelf life may have had some impact on chilled sheepmeat exports, the changes were possibly due to Brexit, with UK sheepmeat exports also dropping.
"It appears we may be starting to see the impact of Brexit. Data from the UK's Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) shows that UK exports of sheepmeat were down 25 per cent, by 12,705 tonnes, compared to the same period last year, with most of the decline in exports to the EU.
New Zealand's red meat sector continually demonstrated that it was well-positioned to deal with disruptions and divert product to other markets, Karapeeva said.
"The high standing New Zealand red meat enjoys internationally and the strong relationships our industry has with its customers will ensure the sector continues to deliver for New Zealand farmers and for the economy."