Meat companies will have fewer lambs and cattle to process this season as a result of the drought in the North Island and western South Island.
An annual stock number survey by Beef + Lamb New Zealand indicates that two million fewer lambs will be born this spring, reducing the number to fewer than 24.5 million - a drop of 8.5%.
Chief economist Andrew Burtt says that is due to a combination of factors triggered by the drought, including a drop in North Island ewe numbers.
"The main impact has been in the North Island where sheep numbers declined nearly 3%; whereas in the South Island they were almost static."
He says that will have flow-on effects for exporters as they try to meet demand from overseas customers in particular.
Mr Burrt says cattle numbers have also reduced by 1.3% nationally, which he says was most noticeable in the North Island where the decline was about 2.5%.