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China Capturing Global Sheep Meat Market

10 December 2013
BordBia

CHINA - The explosive growth of China’s middle class has brought about sweeping economic and social changes, and this in turn has fuelled an engine of consumer spending and demand for a protein-rich diet of red meats, according to Declan Fennell from the Meat Division of Bord Bia – Irish Food Board.

From the perspective of the global meat industry, China has developed an insatiable appetite for sheep meat, and even though China boasts the biggest sheep flock in the world, demand has outpaced domestic supplies.

According to the Chinese Customs Authority, sheep meat imports have grown five-fold since 2010.

However, it is the events of the last twelve months that have pushed China into pole position as the number one sheep meat importer in the world.

In the first six months of 2013, sheep meat imports surged ahead of the previous year by over 225 per cent.
China’s sheep meat imports, which are predominately low value cuts, in frozen format are primarily sourced from New Zealand and Australia, with Uruguay contributing to a small share of import volumes.

New Zealand’s free trade agreement with China has enabled New Zealand to secure a strong foothold in the market, with 58 per cent share of sheep meat imports.

In the period January to June 2013, China imported 82,619 tonnes from New Zealand (+217 per cent on the previous year), this was followed by Australia (46,726t) with 40 per cent of share and Uruguay (3,513t) with 2 per cent. Interestingly, a seasonal pattern of supply exists between the two main exporters, with New Zealand having a higher proportion (55 per cent) of their exports in the first six months of the year, while 60 per cent of Australian exports were destined during July to December period.

While China places a bigger draw on sheep meat from the southern hemisphere suppliers, the Irish sheep meat industry is set to gain from the ripple effect of global demand outpacing supply.

 

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