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Butter exports halved in July – Media release

26 August 2019

Key commodity exports of butter, milk powder, logs, and meat all fell in July 2019, with butter alone down by half on a year ago, Stats NZ said today.

Export values of butter halved from July 2018 levels, down $139 million in July 2019. The quantity exported also halved. Butter exports to China were much lower compared with a year ago, down $77 million (72 percent).

“The fall in July butter export values concluded the export season, which were 21 percent lower than last year,” said international trade statistics manager Darren Allan.

“The lower season results were due to lower prices as well as less butter exported.”

Milk powder values followed the slide in butter, falling $74 million (11 percent). Half the fall was to China, down $38 million (16 percent).

“Falls in dairy exports mainly reflected lower exports to China,” said Mr Allan.

“However, more meat was exported to China instead of traditional markets such as the United States.”

Sheepmeat (including lamb and mutton) exports fell $31 million (12 percent). In contrast, exports to China rose $16 million, and less was sent to the EU, down $18 million.

Beef exports fell $13 million (3.9 percent). Exports to China rose $73 million (84 percent), while exports to the United States fell $59 million (45 percent).

“African swine fever has reduced domestic pork supply in China, and it appears that consumers have turned to other meats, such as beef and lamb from New Zealand,” Mr Allan said.

Goods exports to China rose $33 million to $1.4 billion, with the rise in lamb and beef exports helping offset falls in other commodities.

Kiwifruit exports rose $76 million, with increases to China (up $40 million) and to the EU (up $32 million). The rise of kiwifruit exports to China was led by gold kiwifruit, while the EU received more green kiwifruit.

In July 2019, the total value of goods exports fell $309 million (5.8 percent) from July 2018, to $5.0 billion.

Log prices tumble in China

Log exports fell $67 million (19 percent). Eighty percent of logs exported in the last year went to China.

Values to China fell $39 million (15 percent) as prices fell, after a period of relative stability. The quantity exported to China rose 5.9 percent. The average value of logs sent to China has dropped from almost $180 per cubic metre at the start of the calendar year to less than $140 per cubic metre in July.

Trade deficit widens in July 2019

Goods import values rose $173 million (3.1 percent). Falling exports and rising imports widened the trade deficit to $685 million, from $203 million in July 2018.

MIL OSI