Beef + Lamb New Zealand, which represents New Zealand’s beef and sheep farmers, reported strong growth and increased demand for its grass-fed, pasture-raised beef and lamb. Despite significant export and supply chain disruptions, New Zealand’s red meat exports reached a record high of $9.2 billion last year, with the U.S. leading beef export volume growth across all key global markets.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand saw double-digit percentage increases in quantity (15%) and value (34%) of grass-fed beef exported to the U.S. in 2020, signifying high demand and growing preference for New Zealand grass-fed beef.
“The global meat sector faced unprecedented challenges last year, but the tremendous growth we achieved is a testament to the agility of our farmers and processors, and growing demand,” said Nick Beeby, General Manager Market Development, Beef + Lamb New Zealand. “Throughout the pandemic, consumers sought safe, nutritious and sustainable food choices, and many selected New Zealand grass-fed beef and lamb from our trusted brand partners.”
In addition to growing consumer awareness and preference for grass-fed beef and lamb from New Zealand, several market trends also contributed to strong performance in 2020, including a surge in at-home meal consumption due to COVID-19 and a focus on healthy eating and immunity-boosting foods. According to IRI data, “100% Grass-fed” was one of the top 10 product claims consumers looked for in 20201. The overall fresh meat category also saw growth in 2020. Fresh meat sales were up 35%, and fresh meat led to fresh aisle growth at 18%2.
Meanwhile, distribution and availability for New Zealand grass-fed beef and lamb continues to grow at retail and online. Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand's largest red meat producer and exporter, has seen a 36% increase in retail presence on the West Coast compared to the year prior. In November 2020, the company launched a direct-to-consumer e-commerce site to provide their premium quality grass-fed red meat products direct to customers across the U.S.
Matt Luxton USA Director of Sales comments, “we are pleased with our retail and e-commerce expansion and will continue to focus on channel growth to bring conscious Americans our sustainable red meat. We care a lot about protecting the environment and sustainability at Silver Fern Farms. In fact, our Sustainable Chain of Care program includes a range of initiatives and targets to reduce our environmental impact, such as reducing water and energy use. Watch out for an exciting announcement in the sustainable beef space coming to a store near you soon.”
Appetite for grass-fed meat continues to show significant gains in 2021 as Americans prioritize sustainably raised food products. A 2020 survey3 found that nearly 7 in 10 Americans said buying sustainably raised or produced food products is a priority. As consumer behaviors and preferences shift toward conscious consumption and more sustainable choices, Beef + Lamb New Zealand continues to educate Americans about the benefits of grass-fed beef and lamb and the New Zealand grass-fed difference.
“With grass-fed beef and lamb from New Zealand, people can feel better about their meat choices without compromising on taste or quality,” said Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, “Not only is grass-fed red meat more sustainably and humanely raised than conventional meat, it’s also nutritionally superior and contains important vitamins and nutrients for overall immunity, energy levels, focus and performance. Plus, it’s leaner, more finely textured and tastes better!”
New Zealand has a holistic approach to farming, which focuses on soil health, animal welfare and thriving farm communities, and a commitment to maintaining the country’s biodiverse environment, protecting water and air, and reducing carbon emissions. The country is comprised of multigenerational family farms that believe in a connected ecosystem central to regenerative agriculture, and beef and lamb farmers use methods that have evolved over generations and are well-adapted to local environmental conditions.
New Zealand is one of the few places in the world where pasture farming can reach its true potential. The ideal conditions, grass-fed diets and open pastures significantly contribute to improved animal welfare – the cattle and sheep are happier and healthier. As a result, New Zealand grass-fed beef and lamb is not only high quality but also has significantly better nutritional value.
Source: Beef + Lamb New Zealand