MIA Matters: First senior technical and operation managers delegation to China

Affco Director Rowan Off, Qingdao
Affco director Rowan Ogg presenting at the chilled lamb and beef seminar in Qingdao

Senior technical and operations managers, representing the majority of New Zealand’s export meat processors, had a good first-hand look at the supply chain in New Zealand’s largest market in October. They were all part of the fourth Meat Industry Association (MIA)-led delegation to China, writes MIA chief executive Tim Ritchie.

Their visit was part of the ongoing work to strengthen the whole of industry relationships between the meat industries in the two countries. While previous delegations had mainly consisted of company chief executives and directors, this latest group was largely made up of senior technical and operations managers from nine MIA-member companies, representing almost 90 percent of New Zealand’s beef and sheepmeat production.  An important focus of this visit was to support the current trial allowing exports of chilled beef and lamb from a limited number of New Zealand processing plants.

The key event of their programme was participation in the ‘Quality at Every Step’ New Zealand chilled lamb and beef seminar, co-hosted by MIA, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and the China Meat Association (CMA). This was held in Qingdao in conjunction with the China International Meat Industry Week 2017.

The seminar’s overall aim was to give the Chinese regulators and customers confidence that New Zealand chilled product is safe and of premium quality and that product integrity can be maintained throughout the supply chain so that the product reaches end users in the ideal condition.

Presentations from Chinese industry and government representatives gave an overview of the Chinese market and the process for importing meat. From New Zealand’s side, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries’ deputy director general for China relations, Dave Samuels explained New Zealand’s regulatory system to participants.

Qingdao Port
Qingdao port, one of the 10 largest container ports in the world.

The importance the New Zealand meat industry places on every step in the process for the production of chilled beef and lamb was detailed by Affco director Rowan Ogg. His presentation covered the handling and transportation of livestock, the use of processing techniques and technologies to reduce the risk of contamination, the cleaning cycle and the critical importance of the cold chain for the entire chilled meat process.

The seminar was well-attended and was successful in achieving its goals. As well as providing good visibility for New Zealand and further cementing our relationship with CMA, the messages about the New Zealand system for producing high quality, safe chilled meat were well received.

While in Qingdao, the delegation visited the port, ranked as one of the 10 largest container ports in the world, and met with representatives from Mainfreight and the officials from the local China Inspection and Quarantine (CIQ) Service to discuss the process and timeframes for clearing consignments through the port. The delegation went on from the meeting to view a CIQ coldstore facility and also had a tour of container facilities at the port.

John Loughlin with Zhang Liang CAHG
MIA chairman John Loughlin with CAHG’s Mr Zhang Liang from at the CAHG sheep breeding facility in Yinchuan.

The visit also included meetings with Chinese government and industry representatives in Beijing and a visit to Yinchuan, the capital of the Ningxia Autonomous Province. Ningxia is an autonomous region for the Hui people, who are ethnically and linguistically similar to Han Chinese with the exception that most of them practice Islam. Twenty percent of China’s Hui population of approximately 10.5 million live in Ningxia.

There is significant consumption of halal meat in the region and it is an important destination for New Zealand halal-certified product. Ningxia is also a major sheep-rearing region, with around 20 million sheep. While in Yinchuan, the delegation visited local farms and a processing facility and also went to a sheep breeding facility run by the China Animal Husbandry Group (CAHG). This is one of China’s largest state-owned enterprises, and its operations include livestock and poultry breeding, veterinary vaccines and pharmaceuticals, feeds and feed additives, pesticides, plant seeds, chemical products, instruments and equipment.

The CAHG facility in Yinchuan is primarily focused on sheep-breeding, in particular cross-breeding to improve the productivity of the local Tan sheep breed. The facility has the capacity to hold 8,000 sheep, and currently has 4,500 head spread among five different breeds – white and black head Dorper, Suffolk, Merino, and Tan.

Overall, it was another successful visit. As well as further strengthening our industry’s relationship with counterparts and government agencies in China, the visit was a valuable opportunity to explain the New Zealand systems and processes for producing high quality chilled meat, something we have been doing for more than 40 years.

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