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U.S. Chilled Pork Debuts at New Zealand Retail

Published: Apr 03, 2014

Rangitikei Meat Director Bill Gleeson (l.) and Wayne Gerrand, owner of one of the Mad Butcher stores, at the U.S. pork showcase in Gerrand’s Palmerston North store

One of New Zealand’s most recognized butcher chains is the first to promote fresh chilled American pork following the implementation of government standards that allow imported raw pork in prepackaged consumer-ready packets of three kilograms (6.6 lbs.) or less into the country.

The promotion was held across the country in March at The Mad Butcher’s 41 butcher shops in collaboration with Rangitikei Meat Distributors, New Zealand’s largest independent meat wholesaler. USMEF, with support from the Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), provided U.S. pork posters, package stickers and point-of-sale materials for The Mad Butcher’s shops.

New Zealand’s new standards, which allow raw pork to be imported from the United States, the EU and Mexico, actually were set in 2011, but strong protests from the domestic pork industry, ostensibly on fears of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, led to a legal battle that finally ended in December 2013.

The long-awaited arrival of chilled U.S. pork “was very well received and sold above expectations,” said Bill Gleeson, director of Rangitikei Meat, who imported the first shipment of American pork for the promotion.

USMEF began laying the groundwork for chilled pork exports to New Zealand in 2011 following the government’s decision to allow raw imported pork into the country. USMEF brought Gleeson and Brad Dunnett, director of Australia’s Dunnett & Johnston Group (Rangitikei Meat’s Australian partner), to the United States as part of an Oceanic pork buyers’ team to witness firsthand the high quality and safety standards of American pork.

While the size of the New Zealand market (4 million people) provides a limitation, USMEF-ASEAN Director Sabrina Yin sees room for growth for chilled U.S. pork.

“For sure we will see U.S. chilled pork penetrating into the foodservice sector,” said Yin. “Finland already is in the chilled category, but we will be working with both importers and exporters to help increase penetration for U.S. pork.”

According to statistics from the Global Trade Atlas, New Zealand imported 35,762 metric tons of pork in 2013, 93.6 percent of which was frozen. Canada was the biggest volume supplier with a 24 percent market share, followed by the U.S. (22 percent), Finland (17 percent) and Australia (16 percent). The U.S. was the biggest exporter when measured by value (nearly 21 percent) followed by Finland (20 percent), Canada (18 percent) and Denmark (15 percent).