Chinese demand for NZ lobster sees air freight volumes jump

Auckland Airport air cargo data is showing a jump in the Chinese market’s demand for New Zealand lobster to heights not seen in years.

Plane above Auckland (file picture). Source:

Data for May shows more than 300 tonnes of live lobsters were airfreighted to China, up 53 per cent on the same month last year.

General manager of aeronautical commercial at Auckland Airport Scott Tasker said the lobster industry is getting “a much-needed boost”.

It comes as the Chinese hospitality industry re-opens in time for its national three-day Labour Day Holiday after Covid-19 saw restaurants shut since late January during Chinese New Year celebrations.

Air cargo figures for Auckland Airport show the rapid drop in lobster volumes over the past months – down 84 per cent in February, down 44 per cent in March and down 52 per cent in April.

“A few years ago, much of the New Zealand lobster exported would have been frozen tails sent by sea freight,” Mr Tasker said.

He said air freight had the advantage of being able to deliver fresher produce and react quickly to changes like China re-opening following lockdown.

Mr Tasker said Auckland Airport’s international cargo capacity declined 35 per cent year-on-year in May as airlines continued to suspend passenger flights, but month-on-month capacity improved 33 per cent due to more cargo-only flights.

Exports of respiratory equipment are growing and have recorded an increase of 329 per cent year-on-year jump in volumes since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Imports of textiles, plastic products such as containers and labware, and sprays and disinfectants showed the biggest growth as New Zealand came out of lockdown.

Imports of Covid-19 essentials like surface cleaners and laptops continued to grow, but at a slower rate.