Prime Cut: NZ red meat sector turns towards the future

As a mad and fairly bad 2016 for the world winds down, I get the distinct impression the NZ red meat sector may have stopped navel-gazing at last and has now turned towards the future.

The hard work that has gone on behind the scenes over the past few years now seems to be pointing all of the boats in the same direction.

The two cooperatives responsible for the majority of New Zealand’s export meat production largely seem to have settled down. The Silver Fern Farms deal with Shanghai Maling has been completed which leaves the new 50/50 NZ-China joint-venture free to aggressively pursue its ‘plate to pasture’ strategy,  the company says. Alliance Group has had a good year, compared to recent ones, getting control of operational costs – which means a welcome dividend for shareholders at the end of the year. The company is installing new technology and getting ready for the future.

Meat company collaboration is evident, particularly in activities surrounding the red meat Primary Growth Partnerships, the Red Meat Profit Partnership, and also the deer industry’s Passion 2 Profit programme.

Meat scientists and researchers are busily working on a raft of new projects, not least the new meat quality measurement sensors. All of the seven-year Primary Growth Partnership programmes – FarmIQ, FoodPlus, Wagyu Beef, Omega Lamb and the deer industry’s Passion 2 Profit  – are part way through and with two nearing completion, we should start to see more results coming forward.

RMPP has a new nationwide NZ Farm Assurance Programme in place for farmers producing export red meat. This is aimed at verifying marketing claims and is supported by the majority of meat processors. We can look forward to reading all about how it underscores the sector’s red meat story, combining the rational with the emotional, in the New Year.

So, we now have everything in place, but will be battling a challenging global market featuring (in no particular order) currency challenges, a new US president, climate change, implications of Brexit in the UK and continental European markets, non-tariff trade barriers in markets with which NZ has trade deals and other potential new trade deals to finalise and strike.

Good news that China recently approved more New Zealand meat processing plants for production for that country, but we’re still waiting for chilled plant accreditation.

Here at home, we have a new Prime Minister for 2017 (congratulations to Bill English!) and it’ll also be an election year.

The outlook is for beef prices to fall back, now US producers are back on stream, for fewer beef cattle and lambs but stronger sheepmeat prices and venison prices also to lift. Both of the latter are subject to currency fluctuations outside of NZ control. We’ll see what happens!

MeatExportNZ plans to continue keeping you up-to-date with NZ red meat sector news in 2017. We’ll always welcome support, whether that’s in the form of contributions, advertising, sponsorship or a simple supporter’s subscription. Do get in touch. Numbers below.

So, it’s full steam ahead for 2017. Who knows what it will bring!

Have a wonderful holiday break. See you in the New Year.

This is the editorial from MeatExportNZ’s December Prime Cut newsletter. If you would like to subscribe for future issues, fill in your details in the newsletter box on the front page, or in the pop up. 


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