China/New Zealand meat industry relationship strengthens

In a visit highlighting the strengthening relationship between the New Zealand and Chinese meat industries, a delegation led by the China Meat Association (CMA) paid its first visit to this country in June to meet with its Kiwi counterparts.

The CMA is the nation-wide organisation representing members from the Chinese meat production and distribution industry. The CMA executive president and vice-president led the delegation, which also included representatives from major Chinese meat importing and processing companies.

This visit provided the Meat Industry Association (MIA) with the opportunity to provide its Chinese counterparts with a deeper understanding of the New Zealand red meat sector, including the regulatory framework, research and development, innovation, on-plant systems and processes and also to develop and strengthen commercial relationships and networks, explains chief executive Tim Ritchie.

At a government-to-government level the relationship with China involves the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), both in Wellington and on the ground in China. At a commercial level, companies have developed good working relationships with their commercial partners in China. As an example, Silver Fern Farms’ boosted its presence in China last year with the opening of an office in Shanghai for the Primary Collaboration New Zealand partnership in which it is involved.

However, there is also a level between government and commercial, which is critical to supporting market access and strengthening the overall New Zealand/China relationship, says Ritchie.

“The ‘whole of industry’ organisation level is seen by China as an important way to enhance understandings and open pathways to resolve market access issues. Industry organisations provide a bridge between industry and government,” he says.

New Zealand made the first step in developing the relationship in the middle of last year, when a delegation of meat industry chairmen and chief executives travelled to China.

“That visit confirmed that industry-to-industry collaborations, in addition to the company-to-company relationships was important to the overall relationship.”

The CMA’s visit to this country was an important step in strengthening the relationship. The delegation met with MIA and MPI officials in Wellington before travelling to the Manawatu to visit ANZCO’s Rangitikei sheep processing plant. They then moved on to Hamilton, where they visit Greenlea Premier Meats’ beef processing plant. The visit concluded with a formal dinner and signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the MIA and CMA in Auckland.

This was the second MoU signed by the MIA with a Chinese industry organisation. In November 2014, MIA signed an MoU with the China Chamber of Commerce for Native Products (CCCFNA) in the margins of the Chinese President’s visit to New Zealand. CCCFNA is a state-sanctioned organisation that has roles as a ‘gatekeeper’ for issuing import licenses, and also works in the areas of food safety, food security and in overseeing the foreign accreditation of Chinese laboratories.

“The consistent message is that China wants our products and wants to build relationships with key New Zealand food organisations to meet growing consumer demand for safe and quality food,” says Ritchie.

In recent years, the New Zealand meat industry’s exports to China have grown rapidly and it is now the industry’s second largest overall market behind the United States, taking 18 percent by value of all the red meat and co-products that New Zealand produced in the 12 months ending March 2015.

The industry’s exports to China during the period were worth $1.3 billion, with sheepmeat making up 55 percent of these exports. China is the industry’s largest market for sheepmeat in both volume and value terms.

While exports of sheepmeat to China were relatively steady during the year, the value of New Zealand’s beef exports to China grew by more than 40 percent over the period to reach $273 million.

China is also an important market for a number of the co-products produced by the industry, including sheep pelts worth $72 million in the 12 months to March 2015, along with tallow ($69 million) and cattle hides ($68 million).

China exports, rolling value average

This article has appeared in Food NZ magazine (August/September 2015) and is reproduced here with permission.

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