Lamb Prices Predicted To Increase

Economists have predicted lamb prices could reach as high as $9.65kg - $9.75kg as they continue to exceed record highs.

In 2019 and 2020, the New Zealand lamb schedule traded at $9.30kg, 30 percent ahead of previous highs.

Now towards the end of 2021, economist Nathaniel Keall expected demand to remain favourable over the remainder of the season.

Demand for pork could be driven to other meats with the African Swine Flu rising in China, while the global reopening continues to support external restaurant demand.

While the step down in alert levels had made social distancing less of an issue, staffing shortages were a recurring theme and might cause the killing space to struggle with the coming rush.

This would be a problem, as logistics difficulties had already stunted export volumes. Since the beginning of 2021, frozen lamb cuts - New Zealand's largest lamb export segment - were currently down approximately 13 percent on pre-Covid levels, Keall said.

However, whilst export volumes may be lower, the high prices will offset any damage.

In the Meat Industry Association's annual report, chairman John Loughlin and chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said 2020-21 was a near-record year for meat exports, with $9.1b of product shipped to 108 countries.

Achieving this record was not easy. Covid-19 presented many challenges for the export supply chain and logistics. The labour shortage was also affecting the value of each carcass.

New Zealand has a full-employment economy, which is especially acute in the regions. With the increased demand for halal meat, the sector also needed to look at migrant labour for halal butchers.

The sector faced barriers from Immigration New Zealand and, when the visa extensions for migrant halal butchers expired, the industry would be in a tight spot.