Coronavirus: NZ lamb is largely being diverted towards the Middle East not Europe
According to AHDB, there were concerns that New Zealand sheep meat originally destined for China might be diverted towards Europe due to the on-going coronavirus situation in China.
However, reports from New Zealand have confirmed that, so far at least, the diverted product has mainly headed towards the Middle East. Other reports have suggested that although there are still logistical difficulties at Chinese ports, products are now starting to move again.
Potential shipping times and container availability
AHDB said it would be premature to suggest that there is no chance of additional product coming to Europe, although the quantity may be limited.
So far this year, imports have actually been lower. If New Zealand lamb were to be diverted from China to Europe, the shipping time is several weeks. It’s 6 weeks journey time from New Zealand to the UK, and varies between 5 and 8 weeks or more from China. Anything aimed for the European Easter market would need to have been on route a fortnight ago.
An issue not just affecting the sheep industry, but almost all industries, is shipping container availability. Chinese ports are still somewhat backlogged. This means containers are not being emptied and therefore not available for use again. The shipping industry already tends to work at near max capacity especially with regards to refrigerated containers.