Sheep imports from New Zealand experienced a modest increase in 2020 after a significant decline in 2019 as countries pivoted to focus on shipping more meat to Asian countries.
According to the New Zealand Meat Industry Association (MIA), the value of sheep meat exports to the UK has skyrocketed 25% since the beginning of 2020, but the AHDB said this actually only meant a modest increase in volume.
MIA said this week the overall value of New Zealand lamb exports rose 6% to $ 1.4 billion (£ 687 million) in the first quarter of 2020.
In this figure, the highlight is a 25% increase in sales to the UK to a total of NZ $ 184 million (£ 90.2 million)
However, AHDB principal analyst Duncan Wyatt explained that claims should not be a concern for British farmers and do not reflect an upward trend.
First, the figures quoted in the New Zealand dollar and currency have weakened against the pound over the past 12 months, Mr Wyatt explained.
“If we compare the value of sheep imports during the first quarter of 2019 and the same period in 2020 in pound sterling, the increase will be much lower at 15%,” he advised.
In addition, the increase in value and, because there has been an increase in sheep prices, the figure will increase.
“When you look at the volume imported during that period, it’s still lower, and only rose by 9% from 15,000t in the first three months of 2019 to 16,300 this year,” Wyatt said.
Last year’s import figure was the lowest in a decade, so the increase on a very low basis.
In addition, this is not in line with the underlying downward trend.
“New Zealand is increasingly serving the Chinese market. But the limitation is because coronavirus has seen ports and other transportation hubs closed, “he said.
It has left New Zealand with a surplus of lamb, and some of it has been sold to Britain as a temporary stop until the Chinese market is back online.
AHDB estimates are for NZ lamb imports to continue to decline.
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