China’s strict Covid zero policies finally lifted in December, and now consumer behaviour in China will determine how much New Zealand milk and meat the country will need. That’s the view of NZX Dairy insights manager Stuart Davison who says as infection rates decrease the market will stabilize as consumers begin spending again. In 2022 Total dairy exports to China were down 18% compared to 2021 with China playing a massive role in the global dairy market, with dairy prices depressed when Chinese imports slowed. And China continues to be the meat industry’s largest market, with exports worth $244m in January, down from $398m on a year earlier, but still 40% of total red meat sales for the month. Meat Industry Assn CEO Sirma Karapeeva says beef exports were exceptionally good throughout 2022, with a decline in January probably due to uncertainty caused by the rapid change in China’s Covid-19 policies in mid-December. She says a lot of New Zealand meat ends up in the food service industry, and as Chinese consumers are now able to go out and dine, demand for New Zealand meat should increase.