Processing capacity across New Zealand has rebounded as more people have returned to work after having to isolate or stay at home to look after family members due to COVID-19.
However, companies are still working through the back-log of animals as a result of the reduced staff numbers and the existing labour shortage.
One positive recent development was the Government approval of an additional 500 processing workers from overseas, although the industry is relying on Immigration New Zealand to ensure companies can get the migrants into jobs as quickly as possible.
As always, capacity will vary from plant to plant but it is ranging between 70–90 per cent across the country. Year-on-year processing is still behind last season across all stock types.
The length of the processing delays depends on how far each region is through the processing season and every processor and plant will have different run modes for ovine and bovine.
Processors are bringing on additional capacity for cattle, moving stock across their networks and moving workers to other plants to ease the pressure.
An emerging issue is companies monitoring their storage capacity as they need to ensure livestock inflows into plants are aligned with their ability to ship products to their markets. This is being caused by the global supply chain crisis.
Across the country, lamb processing has improved, but remains about 2–4 weeks behind last year. In the South Island, companies are generally processing typical seasonal volumes. In the North Island, companies lifted processing last week and made encouraging progress through the back-log.
Cattle processing remains behind last season and the situation is compounded by an increasing number of cull cows being sent to plants for processing, which is typical for this time of year. The industry is gearing up for the bobby calf season and it is confident it can manage any capacity issues.
We are continuing to monitor the cattle situation in the lower South Island as we head into winter.
Global supply chain
The global supply chain has deteriorated and an improvement is not expected for some time. Ports in Shanghai, Rotterdam and the west coast of North America are worst-hit, however there has been a knock-on effect on other ports.
Port congestion, vessel schedule changes and a shortage of containers continue to cause bottlenecks and increased costs across the supply chain.
Advice for farmers
Visit the B+LNZ website for more information.
Talk to your key advisors, neighbours and friends.
Although there is currently not a pressing feed situation in most parts of the country, consider putting a feed budget in place and ensuring you have feed reserves in the event you need to hold onto livestock for longer.
Call 0800 BEEF LAMB (0800 233 352).