On February 15, 134 years ago, the first shipment of mutton set sail from Port Chalmers in Otago on the Dunedin, bound for London. This venture was the first important step in establishing the sheep and beef export industry that now contributes $8.5 billion a year to the New Zealand economy.
Monday, February 15 has this year been earmarked as National Lamb Day, marking the 134th anniversary of one of the most significant milestones in New Zealand’s sheep meat industry.
The industry hope Kiwis here and around the world will recognise this incredible feat and celebrate it by enjoying lamb for dinner on February 15. Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Rod Slater says this day also gives New Zealanders an opportunity to recognise the hard work of our farmers and as a nation, a reason to be proud.
This first voyage was an important step in establishing our sheep and beef industry which now contributes $8.5 billion a year to the New Zealand economy. The 5,000 sheep carcasses arrived in London 98 days later, in excellent condition (although not without incident, with all the challenges of refrigeration in those days) highlighting the size of the accomplishment.
Prior to this, New Zealand mainly sold wool overseas as no one believed it possible to have a thriving meat export business.
So gather friends and family this National Lamb Day and celebrate this significant milestone by enjoying our national dish on February 15.