Rebounding global dairy and meat markets and a record timber harvest have played a big role in lifting New Zealand’s expected primary production export earnings to almost $40 billion (NZ$42.6b) for the 2017-18 year.
The NZ figure, largely bolstered by value-added products, is only slightly behind Australia’s farm export earnings (tipped at about $47b this financial year), or almost two thirds the value of our total farm production.
NZ’s 12 per cent rise in the past year is the biggest improvement in the nation’s agricultural performance in four years.
While much of Australia continues struggling with drought, agriculture in NZ was also hit by a droughty summer which cut dairy production 1pc, eroded grain yields and forced livestock onto the market early.
However, every sector of the agricultural economy is predicted by NZ’s Primary Industries Ministry to deliver rising export earnings for 2017-18, with horticulture exports hitting new highs and solid growth being achieved by processed foods and honey.
It’s vital agribusinesses continue moving into higher value products
“The agriculture sector is feeling pretty buoyant, especially with dairy exports back towards the highs of a few years ago,” said Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor.
“It’s certainly a good time for many farmers, although we face the challenge of Mycoplasma bovis – a disease which is a big concern in our dairy herd – and we face increasing competition in markets overseas.”
Mr O’Connor, whose career prior to politics included dairy farming and working in Western Australia and Queensland for five years, said primary industries were the key to NZ’s economic success.
“It’s therefore vital agribusinesses continue moving into higher value products,” he said.
“Farm productivity growth is also necessary to lift the value of what we produce to the benefit of rural communities.”
Australia rates as NZ’s second biggest agricultural product market worth $4b, well behind China at $7.7b and marginally ahead of the US, a big market for meat exports.
Australia’s largest single import category from NZ is dairy, followed by horticulture and forestry products.
Dairy, NZ’s biggest export earner, is worth $15.6b after a 13.6pc rise in the past 12 months, followed by meat and wool, up 12.4pc to $8.8b.
Forestry export earnings are up almost 16pc to $5.1b, thanks to surging sales to China which now accounts for almost half all processed timber and log exports.
Dairy’s significantly value-added nutritional formula exports are on track to be worth 53pc more than last financial year, or $1.1b, while strength in global butter and whole milk powder markets has also helped export returns compensate for summer’s production slide and a smaller herd than two years ago.
Sheepmeat export values have jumped 24pc to more than $3.3b as restricted flock numbers in NZ and Australia combined with increased demand from China and the US to trigger big export value rises.
Beef export returns have lifted from $2.5b to $2.7b in 2017-18.
Horticulture exports are tipped to reach $5.1b, (up 6.4pc), seafood $1.7b (up 5.5pc) and even arable crops will climb to be worth $220m, up 11.6pc.
- Andrew Marshall travelled to New Zealand as a guest of NZ Trade and Enterprise.
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