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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62

Frozen Meat

Frozen Meat.

The large increase in 1890 in the value of frozen meat exported placed that article in the second place in the list of exports for value. The growth of this export has been almost phenomenal. Ten years page 7 ago the project of sending fresh meat to England was regarded as impossible of fulfilment, and Mr. Haslam's statement that vessels would be able to carry carcasses of 10,000 sheep was considered visionary. The improvements made by him in refrigerating machinery have enabled his prophecy to be more than fulfilled, as vessels are now fitted to carry four and five times the number of sheep he mentioned. 1882 was the first year in which there was any export of frozen meat from New Zealand, the value of the export being then only 19,339l. In 1890 the value of this export had risen to 1,087,617l., representing the carcasses of 1,330,176 sheep, of 279,741 lambs, and beef weighing 98,234 cwts. The greatly improved prices of sheep, caused by the demand for this export trade, has much encouraged the farmers of the colony, and has caused increased attention to be given to clearing and laying down bushland in grass and otherwise improving holdings in order to increase the bearing capabilities of the land. Notwithstanding the large increase in the numbers of sheep exported in 1890 the sheep returns for May in that year gave an addition of nearly 700,000 on the number in May of the previous year, thus showing that, even with the present flocks, there is a reserve that might supply a much larger export than at present, and the further progressive increase in the number of sheep that may be looked forward to from the extension of clearing and improvements gives promise of a future export of a magnitude possibly manifold greater than the present. The markets of the civilised world are, having regard to the growth of population, without a corresponding increased area for food-production, practically unlimited. This export has had the effect of helping the colony through a period of great depression, and next to the production of wool, with which it is now inseparably connected, may be regarded as the most important factor in our well-being.

It would be an idle speculation to consider in what condition New Zealand would have been, had the process for meat-freezing now in use not been discovered, but there can be no doubt that it has been of almost incalculable value to this colony. The returns for the year 1891 show a slight increase on the year 1890, but it is asserted that for the current year the exports will probably show a slight decrease owing to a large local demand to stock the large amount of new country that has been recently brought into cultivation, which will, however, lead to an increased export in future years. The rapid growth of the frozen-meat export may be ascertained by reference to the following table:— page 8
Year. Mutton. Value. Lamb. Value. Beef. Total Quantity and Value of Mutton, Lamb, and Beef. Quantity. Quantity. Quantity. Value. Total Quantity. Total Value. cwts. £ £ cwts. £ cwts. £ 1882 .. .. .. .. .. .. 15,244 19,339 1883 86,994½ 116,106 .. .. 937 2,155 87,931½ 118,261 1884 252,422 342,476 .. .. 1,644 2,605 254,066 345,081 1885 286,961¼ 359,648 .. .. 9,169½ 13,678 296,130¾ 373,326 1886 336,404¾ 413,713 .. .. 9,391¼ 12,843 345,796 426,556 1887 656,823 carcasses = 360,656¼ cwt. 387,039 110,816 carcasses = 34,366 cwt. 57,708 6,630 10,195 401,652¼ 454,942 1888 885,843 carcasses = 472,668¼ cwt. 527,613 94,681 carcasses = 34,692½ cwt. 45,583 44,612½ 54,914 551,973¼ 628,110 1889 990,486 carcasses = 547,281 cwt. 641,888 118,794 carcasses = 41,243 cwt. 59,965 66,298 81,521 654,822 783,374 1890 1,330,176 carcasses = 710,194 cwt. 843,034 279,741 carcasses = 88,431 cwt. 133,653 98,234 108,305 896,859 1,084,992

Return of Frozen Mutton, Lamb, and Beef Exported from New Zealand since Commencement (1882).