PrimeCut: Red meat sector taking off for the ’20s

Red meat sector taking off into the '20s

Another busy year is coming to a close, as is this decade. There are signs the red meat sector is ready to take off for the ’20s.

Over those 10 years, we’ve moved – let’s be honest – from a fairly dysfunctional sector to collaborating together. This is thanks to early guidance from the Red Meat Sector Strategy, produced in 2010 and a lot of focused thinking resulting in last week’s launched report Shaping the Future of New Zealand’s Red Meat Sector and a will to change.

We’ve seen the Primary Growth Partnerships delivering some really ground-breaking work, such as grass-fed Wagyu Beef, Omega Lamb, FarmIQ, FoodPlus product innovation, the Red Meat Profit Partnership and the deer industry’s Passion2Profit, which is driving the rejuvenation of that sector.

Gaining access to customers in high-value markets is always key. The success of the China-NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which has just been updated, combined with the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and APEC FTAs provides our sector with streamlined access to customers, especially in our region.

China has become the number one market for practically all of New Zealand’s beef and sheepmeat products and looks to remain so for the foreseeable future as African Swine Fever continues to bite. The US became the top market for New Zealand venison, knocking Germany off the top spot.

China and Japan are now major investors in our red meat sector as, amongst others, Silver Fern Farms transformed to a 50 percent NZ-owned company and ANZCO Foods became a 100 percent-owned Japanese company.

New science and technology is transforming the way we work, including the latest sensor technology, internationally-renowned meat science transforming the sector’s products including co-products to improve returns from the carcase, new biotechnology and new wearable exoskeleton technology to assist workers.

Responding to market opportunities won’t be a problem.

The biggest challenge for all will continue to be climate change and finding ways to work productively and positively with this Coalition Government on solutions for the future.

New Zealand red meat does have a natural, pasture-raised future. Look at the figures. Don’t believe the hype. We are growing value not volume. Next year, the sector may get close to hitting that $11bn target, including domestic production, that was promised in 2010, proving – given time – the sector can achieve what it says it will do.

I’m proud to be associated with this sector, which is doing so many good things. Our proud and able farmers, the envy of other countries around the world, want to be doing the right thing for the climate and freshwater. Alongside them, we’re providing jobs for the people in our world-leading meat processing and exporting companies, our industry-good organisations are passionate and focused on achieving the best for the sector. Our meat and food scientists are top notch, we have brilliant economists and marketers and our retail butchers are proving themselves to be world class. Our consumers continue to get high quality meat for their tables and the Taste Pure Nature campaign should help some of them learn more about our products.

I was also delighted to see the establishment of the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women this year and am looking forward to seeing that grow. Let’s hope other efforts to attract people into the sector continue to bear fruit.

I’ve really enjoyed keeping you all up-to-date over the past seven years. While the future won’t be easy for the sector, I do have great faith that it will continue to prosper.

However, the time has come for change for me and I am sad to say have decided to close down MeatExportNZ at Christmas. This will be my final PrimeCut.

It wasn’t an easy decision. When I set this up in 2016, MeatExportNZ was intended to be a central repository for export meat industry information for those working in the sector, but it grew into so much more with the inclusion of the domestic market and retail butchery too. There is always something to write about in this dynamic and really interesting sector. However, for a solo freelancer, a faster pace, more competition, continually changing technology and an uncertain financial future have meant I need to be realistic.

I’m going to take a good, long break to recharge the batteries, but hope to still be writing elsewhere about the red meat business after that point.

It’s been a huge privilege and honour to work as part of the red meat team. Thanks to our amazing supporters for helping us keep afloat and to our readers for continuing to check in – over 370,000 views over the seven years. Woohoo!!

Have a wonderful festive break, wherever you’re going, and here’s to a great 2020!!

Keep up the good work all – you’re all doing very well!

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