THE FROZEN MEAT TRADE.
A very interesting summary of the history, position, and prospects of the Frozen Meat Trade has been issued under date of December 28th by Messrs William Weddell and Co., Colonial Commission Agents, London, of the information afforded by which we propose to avail ourselves for the benefit of our readers. From a tabulated statement of the arrivals m London of colonial mutton and lambs for the three years 1886-7-8, we find that the total number of carcases received from Australia and New Zealand respectively were— 1886, Australia 66,960, New Zealand 65,888 ; 1887, Australia 88,811, New Zealand 766,417; 1888, Australia 112, 214, New Zealand 039,231, giving the following gross totals for Außtralia and New Zealand, viz, : — 1886, 722,848; 1887, 855,228; 1888, 1,051,445. It is to be understood that
these figures represent the imports into London only, and take no account of shipments into Liverpool or elsewhere m the United Kingdom. The average number of carcases held m London is given month by month for four years, 1885-8, the general average for the year being 1885, 55,000 ; 1886, 91,000 ; 1887, 128,000 ; 1888, 112,000 ; the largest total of stocks on hand during any month of last year being that for December, which is given as 185,000 carcases. The number of vessels engaged m the trade is given as follows : —New Zealand to London 10 sailers, carrying capacity per voyage 101,000 carcases, 16 steamers, 459,000 carcases, the fleet being capable of carrying during the year a total of 1,220,000 carcases. Australia to London 10 steamers, carrying capacity per voyage 48,000, per year 145,000. River Plate to London and Liverpool 20 steamers, carrying capacity per voyage 347,000, per year 1,040,000. From which it appears that so far as the trade between New Zealand and London is concerned the vessels at present engaged, if employed to the full of their capability, would be able to carry during the year 280,000 carcases m excess of the num ber carried m 1888, or nearly one-third more than they actually carried, and assuming that the expansion of the trade proceeds m the same ratio as m the past three years, then it follows that for 1890 more vessels will be required than are at present engaged m it. The storage accommodation available at Home appears to be ample for some time to come, and equal to more than double the demand at present made upon it, for Messrs Weddell state that "the space now available for the storage of frozen meat m London and Liverpool is equal to the accommodation of about 350,000 to 420,000 carcases, according to size or carcase and method of storing. In London there are eight land stores, and two floating hulks, capable of halding some 250,000 or 300,000 carcase^ while additional refrigerators are now m course of erection. In Liverpool there are three stores, with a capacity of 100,000 to 120,000 carcases," besides which it appears that throughout the provinces several small stores have been erected, notably m Birmingham, Manchester, and Glasgow. As regards the price commanded by New Zealand mutton during the four years 1885 to 1888, we Jearn from tabulated returns given that the averages for those years respectively were as follows, viz : — 1885, s£d ; 1886, 5d ; 1887, 4£d ; 1888, 4£d. The tendency was therefore steadily downward for the first three years, while last year shows a recovery of a farthing. The highest figure given is for March 1885 when 6Jd was reached, and the lowest B|d which was the ruling figure for December 1887 and January 1888. The highest figure for last year was s£d, being the price m August last. That the United Kingdom must necessarily continue to be a consumer of the mutton fed on the pastures of New Zealand, Australia and the Argentine Republic is shown very plainly by the fact that while Great Britain and Ire? land with a population of about 33,000,00Q possess only 10,268,600 head of cattle, and 29,938,716 sheep, Australia, with a population of only 8,000,000, has 7,860,971 head of cattle, and 79,111,615 sheep. New Zealand, with a population of 600,000, has 853,85,8 head of cattle, and 1 6,56,4,595 sheep, and the, Argentine Republic with a population of four millions, 19,000,000 head of cattle and 90,000,000 sheep. Thus m round figures, while thp United Kingdom with thirty-eight millions of consumers has thirty millions of sheep, Australia, New Zealand and the Argentine Republic together have less than eleven millioos of consumers with one hundred and eightysix millions of sheep. Further it is to be borne m mind, as pointed out In the circular under nptipe, that *■* the population of the United kingdom is steadily increasing at the rate of about I percent per annum, while the aggregate live stock has during the past three years decreased at the rate of about 3 per cent Vr annum. It is apparent therefore, that m order to maintain the^bxisting rate of consumption without depleting Home flocks and herds, a material extension of the import trade must tal^e place, and colon'*a| shippers should be prepare^ to take their share m the further development of that trade •'< At present the total import of live and dead meat represent!? from ten to fifteen ptr cent of the total quantity of meat consumed m the United Kingdom, but of that total import frozen meat only represents about twenty per cent, about one-half of which is of New Zealand origin, bo that " roughly speaking the total import of New Zealand mutton may be reckoned as considerably less than two per cent of the total consumption of beef and mutton." It is the fashion m this colony to regard the Argentine Republic with some contempt as a competitor with Mew Zealand for the supply of the Home market, and it is undoubtedly the fact that at present the quality of New Zealand meat is infinitely superior but Messrs Weddell point out that great efforts have been made of late years by many Argentine sheep owners to improve the character of their flocks m view of the requirements of the English market, and they go on to., say that "New Zealand shippers must always bear m mind the fact that the River Plate is yearly increasing its output of frozen mutton, that trade being assisted by a lower charge for freight, &c, a bounty on exports, and the advantages of a rate of exchange which enables sales to be advantageously made m this country at apparently low prices. Steps aye being taken thepp for farther extension of the trade, and the results of efforts macje m recent ye«e for the improTe.»wns ©J fee
quality of shipments have not yet been fully felt." It is, however, encouraging to the New Zealand producer to read the admission that «as yet the quality of New Zealand mutton is very distinctly superior to either Australian or River Plate produce, and if care be taken to preserve the advantage thus held there is every reason to anticipate a constantly growing demand for it on that account alone."
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