The New Zealand meat industry was pleased when in March, the government announced the six-month trial for chilled meat access into China (FoodNZ, June/July 2017), writes Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Tim Ritchie.
While access is still limited, this is a positive step towards fully opening up the market to level off the playing field with our competitors, such as Australia and more recently the United States.
Both industry and government have undertaken significant work to ensure that the necessary processes are in place to ensure that the trial proceeds smoothly so that at the end of the trial period, market access can be opened up to all China eligible processing establishments.
The first shipments of chilled lamb and beef left New Zealand at the end of June. These initial shipments by Alliance Group and Greenlea Premier Meats were soon followed by shipments from the other companies taking part in the trial.
To support the trial, MIA is working with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise on a market research programme to gain a deeper understanding of the market for chilled beef and lamb in China.
The initial major piece of research is a project to map and assess the supply chain and cold chain capability for chilled meat in China. Information gathered from this trial will provide valuable insights about how New Zealand chilled meat makes its way from the port all the way through to the customer. The research will also aim to identify potential risk areas and put forward recommendations on how these can be managed.
Further research is planned to gain a deeper understanding of consumer sentiment and perception of New Zealand chilled meat to help companies better target their marketing campaigns.
The MIA in partnership with the China Meat Association is organising a technical seminar on chilled meat in Qingdao in October, where the preliminary results from the research will be presented.
A key aim of the seminar is to further reinforce with Chinese officials and consumers the safety and quality of New Zealand chilled meat, so that access can be extended to all China-listed plants following the trial. The seminar will also look to enhance the capability to handle chilled meat throughout the supply chain so that product reaches the end consumer in optimum condition.
In further positive news, there have been steps to improve access for other products. In June, certification conditions were agreed for export of processed bovine blood serum and protein products, allowing trade in these products to begin in July.
They are used in the production of pharmaceutical products, so having access to China is an important avenue for further increasing the returns from all parts of the carcase.
While there are still areas where industry would like to see access improved, these developments are two very positive steps in improving access and increasing the value of our trade with China.
This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (August/September 2017) and is reproduced here with permission.