BEEF + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says lamb exports are es-timated to remain at about NZ$3.1 billion (£1.55 billion) in 2018-19, after breaking
the NZ$3-billion (£1.5-billion) mark for the first time the year before.
Overall, however, the B+LNZ new season outlook forecasts farm profit before tax to drop 2.8 per cent to NZ$129,700 (£64,964) on average for sheep farms.
B+LNZ chief economist Andrew Burtt says while there is potential for international sheep meat to be disrupted in 2018-19 because of geopolitical uncertainty, large-scale dr-
oughts, and disease out-breaks in competing animal proteins, the outlook for New Zealand’s sheep sector is positive.
As the 2018-19 meat export season begins, the report forecasts lamb and mutton prices to remain firm at historically high levels, helped by an expected weakening New Zealand dollar and strong export demand.
“We forecast slight in-creases in farm-gate prices for lamb and mutton in 2018-19, as prices are expected to remain relatively steady in New Zealand’s main export markets and benefit from an expected easing of the New Zealand dollar,” Burtt says.
“This follows the except-ionally strong average farm-
gate prices for lamb and mutton in the 2017-18 season.”
A combination of tighter mutton supply from both Australia and New Zealand, who contribute the vast majority of international sheep meat trade, and growing global demand is expected to continue to drive an increase in the average export value of mutton, which influences lamb prices.
New Zealand’s export lamb production is forecast to ease 1.7 per cent due to a smaller lamb crop, which is the result of a fall in the number of breeding ewes this year as farmers took advantage of high mutton prices.
Mutton exports are also forecast to be down 17 per cent because of the smaller and younger breeding ewe flock. More ewe hoggets were retained for breeding this year reflecting farmer confidence in sheep pro-duction going forward.