A Chinese delegation is visiting Alliance Group this week as the leading meat processor looks to launch a major consumer research programme in China.
Representatives of Alliance Group’s in-market partner Grand Farm, China’s largest single importer of New Zealand sheepmeat, and two Chinese Government officials, toured the company’s Lorneville processing plant near Invercargill, the Mataura beef processing plant, and the venison plant at Makarewa.
Grand Farm’s group included president Xibin Chen, general manager Ms Jiao Chen and manager of international trade Paul Wang. They also visited an Alliance Group supplier farm.
The delegation’s arrival coincides with Alliance Group and Grand Farm developing a five-point blueprint designed to further grow business between the two companies.
The blueprint includes the launch of a consumer research programme in China, new product development and ensuring Alliance Group products continue to meet the changing tastes of Chinese consumers. The two companies will also discuss the possibility of Alliance Group exporting New Zealand venison to China in the future.
The consumer research programme, funded by Alliance Group, Beef + Lamb NZ and Grand Farm, will see Chinese consumers surveyed on the taste and quality of New Zealand lamb, compared to that of Chinese and Inner Mongolian lamb.
China is now Alliance Group’s largest export for lamb and mutton by volume and is closing the gap on the UK for value.
“Grand Farm is one of Alliance Group’s long-standing customers in China and it has enabled us to grow and expand our various lamb and mutton cuts into the country from lower valued cuts to higher-end retail product.
“Grand Farm processes 70 per cent of the lamb supplied by Alliance Group into lamb rolls, kebabs and finished retail ready products. They also have a number of retail outlets displaying products co-branded with Alliance Group’s Pure South brand.”
Grand Farm has a wide range of customers including most major Chinese and international supermarket chains within China, he adds.
“As well as supplying a number of large restaurant chains and boasting its own retail outlet stores, Grand Farm also has strong plans for growth.”
China also promised significant growth opportunities for Alliance Group, Brown says.
“With the reduction in tariffs, and the growth in population, New Zealand has become an important supplier of protein to China. As distribution and logistics improve, higher valued cuts including chilled lamb will evolve and there is already interest in some of these product types.”
As part of their first visit to New Zealand, the Chinese Government officials hoped to learn more about the partnership between Alliance Group and Grand Farm, says Brown.
Alliance Group has been working in China since the mid-1990s and is now the largest exporter of New Zealand lamb to the country.
The co-operative began exporting to traders in Dalian in the mid-1990s and has been working with Grand Farm, since 2000. Grand Farm is the best known distributor and marketer of top quality red meat in northern China.