By Monique Steele
The latest red meat export figures paint a grim picture for New Zealand farm-gate profits.
Exports in March dropped four percent to $1.1 billion, from this time last year.
Values of sheep meat and beef have come down 8 percent off last year's high levels with the industry citing global economic challenges behind three months of consecutive declines.
Meat Industry Association's Manager of Strategy and Advocacy Jason Krupp said the drop in export revenue will be felt on farm.
"Certainly, prices coming down is going to have an impact on revenue."
"Those prices were fairly elevated last year, but having revenue come down at the same time when on-farm costs have gone up, you know, farmers are exposed, obviously to inflation, in terms of the goods and services that they buy, but also in terms of the debt they have to service.
"We're certainly seeing some pressure on farmers, and there's an anticipation that our profits could fall by as much as a third is what we're hearing."
Exports to China were up 22 percent on last March - put down to an easing of Covid-19 restrictions - while sheep meat values dropped a whopping 36 percent by American buyers.
Exports to the United Kingdom were slashed by half to $244 million, and exports to Japan down 40 percent.
Krupp said it is a delicate balance sending products to the right place.
"I think those declines that we're seeing in those two countries will be moderated to some degree by China.
"We're starting to see Chinese consumers come back into the meat-buying market.
"That said, China - like every country - is not immune from the macro-economic environment, and they are coming into a tough economic cycle."