The latest slaughter statistics show the national lamb kill is 7.4 percent behind last year. This is predominantly driven by a slow start to the South Island lamb kill which seems to be falling further and further behind each week. In contrast, the North Island lamb kill started strong, with this season tracking about 2 percent ahead of last year. However, continued rain led farmers to forgo the usual preChristmas lamb rush and the North Island lamb kill fell behind the historic trend in mid-December. It will be a few weeks until we have definitive numbers, but all evidence suggests that a great number of extra lambs remained on-farm into this year. The weather has certainly supported a turnaround in crop condition. This will continue to underpin the store lamb market while others will use these crops for home-bred lambs.

It is still early days for beef, but it appears the US imported beef market has picked up from where it left off in late December. This is on the back of very light trading over the last two weeks. The key theme is that prices for 95CL bull meat are holding steady at US$2.12/lb, and 90CL cow is comfortable at US$1.98/lb. While there has been some testing of the market with US buyers trying for lower bids, nothing has come to fruition, and the expectation is for the market to remain steady in the coming weeks on the back of limited shipments in the last two weeks and a lack of manufacturing beef heading to the US through November and December.

New Zealand manufacturing beef exports to the US totalled 9100t in December. Better prices out of China also restricted New Zealand volumes to the US, with over 5000t of manufacturing beef being shipped there in December.

From Gisborne Herald