2019 saw imports of New Zealand lamb to the EU at just over half the allocated import quota as Brexit uncertainty led to products being delivered to stronger non-EU markets.
The overall weakness of the pound is thought to have been a factor in reducing exports to the UK to 47,000 tonnes, a fall of by 22% compared to 2018, but the strength of non-EU markets, especially China, is also considered to have been a factor.
NZ Lamb and beef exports to the EU between October 2018 and June 2019 fell by 18% compared with the equivalent 2017-18 period, while exports to northern Asia increased 16% to 126,400 tonnes, accounting for 37% of all NZ lamb exports.
NZ meat industry experts have warned that if the UK and EU fail to reach a trade agreement, UK lamb normally sold in the EU will flood the UK market, collapsing prices and making exporting to the UK uneconomical - but also potentially creating an opportunity for NZ to fill the gap on the continent.
Meat Industry Association trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva recently told the New Zealand Farmers Weekly that the country’s negotiations will centre on a NZ-UK free-trade agreement, and that its red meat sector is looking to build on current World Trade Organisation access rights in the current EU-NZ trade negotiations.