Latest statistics showed that more than 21,500 tonnes of beef worth NZ$155.7m was exported to China in May.
China remains the largest market by value for red meat and co-products, with NZ$329.4m exported to the country followed by the US and Japan.
Overall New Zealand exported more than NZ$912m of red meat and co-products to global markets in the month of May.
US sheep meat success
The value of sheep meat exports to the US was also strong. In the first five months of 2019, the volume of sheep meat exports to the US grew by 1%, but the value of these exports increased by 20%.
The average free on board (FOB) value for sheep meat exports to the US in May was $20.08/kg compared to an average FOB value to the UK of $9.38/kg.
Meanwhile, there was a 42% drop in the volume of sheepmeat exports to the UK and a 39% decrease in value in May compared to May 2018.
The weaker UK market reflected uncertainty over Brexit and exporters mitigating risk associated with market disruption that would occur with a hard Brexit, especially as 29 March fell in the lead up to the critical Easter sales period.
Tim Ritchie, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said the growth in beef exports in China continued the recent trend of rising demand for protein.
“The outbreak of African Swine Fever has also impacted pork production and led to a surge in demand for other protein such as beef.
“Overall, these figures not only represent good news for the New Zealand economy, but also regional New Zealand. The sector is critical to the prosperity and wealth of the country’s economy, the second-largest goods exporter and New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.”