The New Zealand lamb sector is unlikely to be a significant threat to the UK market going forward.
Despite New Zealand prices dropping in recent months, the last five years have seen NZ lamb prices become similar to those in the UK.
And experts claimed New Zealand may not be the same source of cheap lamb as it traditionally has been.
This was a theme highlighted by Stuart Ashworth, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), during his address to the AHDB Conference in Westminster last week, and was underlined by QMS’s Ian MacDonald.
“There was a shift in the last five years,” said Mr Macdonald. “One of the changes was the share of New Zealand exports going to North Asia.”
Mr Macdonald said New Zealand imports to the UK had declined last year.
This theme of New Zealand having less relevance to the UK market was also highlighted by Stephen Howarth, AHDB market specialist manager .
He said: “Only a small rise in New Zealand production is forecast for 2015, although there may be a larger increase in supplies in the first quarter. In addition, Australian production is expected to be significantly reduced, so the global supply situation will remain tight.”
Eblex forecasts show UK lamb production is expected to top 300,000 tonnes this year for the first time since 2009, but the levy body said good global demand meant exports could see growth.
Last week’s conference heard, however, how UK exports could take a hit in the coming months from a strengthening pound compared to many other export countries.
The UK industry is also fighting a long-term battle with falling consumption domestically.
Mr Macdonald claimed lamb was often viewed as expensive by consumers, and this was limiting domestic price rises.
He said: “The producer price has been relatively flat for the past few years. It is seen as an expensive protein which puts a limit on the market.”