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Demand for NZ beef set to remain strong amidst global disruption

Despite significant turbulence in global beef markets, pricing for New Zealand beef remains strong and local producers are heading into the spring in a great position, according to Rabobank’s latest Global Beef Quarterly report.

In the report, Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q3 2021, Rabobank says farmgate pricing in New Zealand has remained elevated over the past three months.

“This high pricing comes off the back of strong demand from China and supressed beef export volumes from Australia,” RaboResearch analyst Genevieve Steven said.

“Pricing across both islands is tracking well ahead of last year and currently sits 10 per cent above the five-year average.”

Ms Steven said New Zealand beef exports for the first half of 2021 were three per cent ahead of 2020 volumes.

“While volumes to the US and Canada were down 26 per cent and 56 per cent respectively, exports to China rose strongly and were up by 21 per cent on the first six months of last year,” she said.

“Although volumes were higher, export earnings for the first half of the year were back by five per cent as a result of a stronger NZ dollar and greater volume going to lower-value markets.”

The report says New Zealand beef pricing is expected to remain strong through to November.

“We anticipate New Zealand prices will be held up by continued strong demand from the US and China” Ms Steven said.

“Downside risks do exist however, with an easing of wholesale beef prices in the US, higher US cow kill, the end of their summer grilling season and the winding up of stimulus packages all having the potential to adversely impact NZ beef pricing.”


Genevieve Steven - Sheep and Beef Research Analyst

Global turbulence

The report says government restrictions on Argentinian beef exports are set to have a substantial impact on global beef trade over coming months.

The restrictions — imposed by the Argentinian Government in late June with the aim of boosting domestic beef supply — limit Argentinian beef exports to 50 per cent of the average monthly volume exported from July to December 2020.

“As Argentina was the fifth largest beef exporter in 2020 and the second largest supplier to China, this cut in export volumes has the potential to have a significant impact on global beef trade,” the report says.

This comes in a year where Argentinian beef exports grew by four per cent in the six months to June 2021, to 419,000 tonnes, despite the 31 per cent year-on-year drop in June with the introduction of restrictions.

The report says while Argentina’s restrictions will be reviewed at the end of this month, it’s unlikely the new export system will end in August. However, it is possible that some aspects of the restrictions could be eased, particularly exports to China and Israel – the country’s biggest export markets – with China accounting for 75 per cent of Argentinian beef exports in 2020.

If restrictions remain in place until the end of the year, the Rabobank Beef Quarterly says, Argentinian beef exports for 2021 could drop by 23.5 per cent (year-on-year) although the “most likely” scenario – whereby sales to China and Israel are maintained – would see exports fall by 9.5 per cent.

“This is the scenario that we believe to be the most likely, as it would meet the demands of the production sector and raise the availability of beef on the domestic market,” the report says.

With wider implications for the global beef market, Ms Steven says, the limited exports from Argentina – mainly to China – would benefit other beef-exporting nations, primarily neighbouring markets such as Brazil and Uruguay.

“At this stage, Argentina’s export reduction is having little, if any, direct impact on New Zealand beef exports, however it could help to provide a pricing-floor in the market,” she said.

After falling from a peak in late April, the report says, confirmed global Covid-19 case numbers are on the rise, and are a further factor which may disrupt global beef markets over the remainder of 2021.

“We’ve recently seen Covid-19 cases number creep back up, particularly in Europe, eastern Mediterranean, Africa and the West Pacific,” Ms Steven said.“

Global retail figures remain strong and food service sales were continuing to improve into June, but the new Delta strain and increased case numbers may impact food service in coming months.”


Rabobank New Zealand is a part of the global Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 120 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 40 countries, servicing the needs of about 10 million clients worldwide through a network of close to 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank New Zealand is one of the country's leading agricultural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the New Zealand food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 32 offices throughout New Zealand.

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