November 28, 2003



New Zealand Lamb Export Set To Fall in 2004

The volume and value of New Zealand (NZ) lamb exports looks set to fall in 2004 due to a higher NZ dollar and tighter lamb supply.


According to a recently completed survey of NZ's lamb industry, the spring lamb drop fell 3.7% from the previous spring, to 31.9 million lambs.  This decrease was due to lower ewe joinings (down 0.7%) and a fall in the national lambing percentage to 120.1%, down from 2002's 123.8% record lambing percentage.


This year, the lower lambing percentage is primarily due to adverse storm and snow conditions during NZ's peak lambing period.  In particular there were storm losses on the East Coast of the North Island, and losses due to snow throughout the foothills of the Canterbury and Otago regions of the South Island.


According to NZ's 'Meat & Wool Innovation - Economic Service', the lower lamb drop is expected to cut NZ export lamb availability by 5.3% in 2004 to 23.45 million lambs.  Lamb prices are also expected to fall due to a strong NZ dollar against its trading partners. 


The total value of NZ lamb exports is expected to fall 10% in 2004, to around NZ$2.06 billion (A$1.8 billion).  However, global demand for lamb is expected to remain strong, which should support higher imported prices of both NZ and Australian lamb in export markets.

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