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    Chinese demand for lamb will affect global supplies

    NewsThursday 22 August 2013
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    Lamb producers around the world have agreed that the increase in demand in China for higher value cuts of lamb is likely to have a significant impact on global supplies. 
     
    A delegation from the UK sheep meat industry, recently met with farmers, processors and stakeholder representatives in New Zealand as part of a fact-finding mission. They discussed the negative impact price volatility is having for sheep meat producers, wherever they farm. 
     
    The organisations agreed that they would continue to work closely together in order to try and better anticipate and understand the impact of volatility on their business. 
     
    The individuals spoken to all believed that the increasing demand for lamb, particularly in higher value cuts, in China, could play an important part in the global picture. 
     
    Nick Allen, EBLEX director, who was among the visitors to the southern hemisphere, said: “New Zealand now has open access to the China market and it is creating a lot of opportunities for them which they are naturally excited about. There is a huge demand for sheep meat there and it is not just the cheaper cuts as may traditionally have been the case.
     
    “With a 1.4 billion population, it doesn’t need a huge percentage to have rising disposable income to see that the potential demand for higher value cuts is significant and this will impact on supply.
     
    “This increased demand from the Far East will influence the global supply of lamb as New Zealand looks to take advantage of that market – something we cannot yet do. It means we could potentially avoid an unusually high flood of lamb cuts into the UK from New Zealand, as we got over a short period late last year.
     
    “However, we need to work closely with our colleagues in New Zealand to try and anticipate spikes and troughs in supply caused by adverse weather patterns, among other factors. We must work harder to develop the sustainability of our industry while continuing to push for market access in countries we cannot yet sell into, including China.”
     
    EBLEX co-ordinated the delegation to New Zealand, which also included representatives from the NFU and National Sheep Association. The group met with Beef and Lamb New Zealand.
     
    Charles Sercombe is the NFU livestock board chairman and he also spoke on the subject to the union’s official website, saying: "Despite all the technology we have in this day and age, there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. These were vital to gain a thorough understanding of the pressures the New Zealand sheep meat industry faces, and I appreciate how candid everyone we met with was.
     
    “What has come across more strongly than anything else is the common challenges we share. This has reinforced my view that there is an urgent need for all parties in supply chains to work more closely together to ensure the best product for the consumer and a thriving and profitable industry which is able to adapt to the changing world marketplace. This is true whether you farm in the UK or New Zealand.”
     
    Picture: Maurice Koop
     
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