Good times ahead for beef farmers

Last updated 16:38 24/01/2013

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Kiwi beef farmers could be in for continued happy days in 2013, say economists from Westpac.

New Zealand beef producers have benefited from the northern hemisphere drought, pushing up competitors' feed costs, particularly in the United States, economist Nathan Penny says.

"Americans wanting their hamburgers even during a drought have created opportunities for pasture-based producers like New Zealand."

The US Department of Agriculture expected imports to account for over 10 per cent of the US beef market by 2013, of which New Zealand beef exporters would grab their share.

In contrast, lamb prices have fallen hard over the past year with recession in Europe constraining household spending.

The improving Chinese economy was supporting wool prices, which might help offset the lost income from weaker lamb prices.

"We expect Chinese growth to accelerate to 8.8 per cent from 7.8 per cent in 2012.

"As China accounts for 45 per cent of New Zealand's wool exports this points to upward price pressure over 2013."

China was not yet a major market for top-end lamb despite sustained growth.

There is no reason why Kiwi lamb producers could develop their own niche as the New Zealand tourism industry has done with its top-end Chinese tourism market, he said.

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- Fairfax Media

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