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Exports continue to rebalance

New Zealand's historic pattern of sheepmeat exports to the European Union is continuing to rebalance as the EU market begins to realign itself post Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), says Meat New Zealand trade policy general manager Anne Berryman.

As a result of FMD, New Zealand sheepmeat exports to the United Kingdom declined by 17.9 percent between 1999 and 2001. However, Meat New Zealand quota monitoring figures suggest significant recovery within the UK market is underway. In 2002 the volume of product sent to the UK market underwent a 5.8 percent year on year increase to 92,284 tonnes, Berryman said. "The EU tariff quota of 226,700 tonnes operates along a calendar year and while it is early days, from January 1 to April 30 this year, New Zealand sheepmeat exports to the UK are 1.1 percent ahead of where they were during that time last year."

"This goes some way to reversing the drop in exports to the UK experienced due to the FMD outbreak there. During the crisis we directed lamb away from the UK to the continent in order not to take advantage of the situation at the expense of British farmers- with which we have a good working relationship- and to meet market demand on the continent in the absence of traditional UK exports," she said.

Prior to the outbreak of FMD, 47 percent of New Zealand's EU sheepmeat tariff quota was sent to the UK, but this declined to 38 percent in 2001, Berryman said.

The additional supply of sheepmeat to the continent was largely absorbed by Germany, France and Belgium, which are New Zealand's major continental markets (74 percent of exports to the EU in 2002 and 35 percent of total exports to the EU). It has also resulted in a significant growth in the Dutch market, Berryman said.

"Exports to the Netherlands have grown by 11.5 percent between 1999 and 2002. More significantly, export figures to April 30 2003 suggest that the Dutch appetite for New Zealand product is continuing to grow in spite of the trend for exports to the continent to once again contract as the UK market expands."

Exports to the Netherlands to April 30 2003 were 11 percent ahead of exports for the same period last year. Meanwhile year to date exports to the German, French and Belgian markets are trending slightly behind the volumes sent last season.

In 2002 New Zealand utilised 99.97 percent of its 226,700 tonne EU quota allocation, Berryman said. "I believe this high level of quota utilisation is a tremendous vote of confidence for the quota allocation system that is in place and the commitment of the New Zealand meat companies who export there."

New Zealand has utilised 50.8 percent of its EU quota allocation up until April 30 this year, which is in line with the same period in the past two years, Berryman said.

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