Meat & Livestock News

China Enhances Market Access for New Zealand Red Meat


  • China significantly expands market access for New Zealand red meat exports, marking the largest opening in nearly a decade with approvals for chilled and frozen meat products.
  • The transition to an electronic certification system by China’s customs authority has facilitated this new wave of approvals, enhancing trade opportunities for New Zealand exporters.
  • While this expansion offers promising prospects for the industry, increased competition from international exporters is expected to impact market dynamics.

In a landmark development for the red meat industry, China has broadened its market access, allowing a significant increase in New Zealand meat exports.

This move, described as the most substantial market opening in almost ten years, comes after the Ministry for Primary Industries announced that four meat plants have received approval for chilled meat exports, with an additional 18 plants authorised to export frozen tripe to China.

This expansion is the most considerable gain since 2017 when Chinese authorities approved 10 plants for chilled meat exports, a decision that led to a reported 10-20% price premium for chilled over frozen meat. However, despite initial progress, the addition of more plants stalled, and the high-value chilled meat trade faced challenges in gaining momentum. The recent approvals signal a significant shift, promising to rejuvenate the sector.

The breakthrough follows last year’s overhaul of China’s paper-based certification system by the General Administration of Customs for the People’s Republic of China (GACC), transitioning to an electronic system. This change required more than 60 New Zealand processing plants to re-register their products, offering a window for exporters to seek approval for previously restricted products.

Among the beneficiaries is Hamilton-based Greenlea Premier Meats, which secured chilled beef export rights for its Morrinsville plant, adding to its initial access granted in 2017. CEO Tony Egan highlighted the strategic importance of this development, noting the company’s efforts to expand its market presence and diversify selling options in China.

The approval expansion, particularly for frozen tripe, represents a significant opportunity for New Zealand exporters. Industry reports indicate a substantial price advantage in the Chinese market, where tripe and casings commanded $14 per kg in 2022, significantly higher than the global average.

Rick Walker, ANZCO’s general manager of sales and marketing, shared insights into the procedural diligence required to navigate China’s complex regulatory landscape, emphasising the importance of comprehensive compliance to avoid shipment delays or rejections.

Despite the optimistic outlook, the opening up of the Chinese market to more international competitors, including those from Australia and South America, introduces new challenges. The increased supply is expected to balance with demand, potentially diluting the premium New Zealand exporters have enjoyed.

The Ministry for Primary Industries confirmed that the new plant approvals are valid for five years, necessitating re-application to ensure continuity. This development marks a pivotal moment for New Zealand’s red meat industry, offering both opportunities and challenges in a competitive global market.