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U.S. Pork Exhibited in Promising New Zealand Market

Published: Jul 02, 2012
U.S. pork was recently showcased at Fine Food New Zealand, the country’s largest international food, retail and hospitality trade show, at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland. USMEF’s participation was made possible by support from the Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).

The first trade show in the Fine Food New Zealand series was in 2010, and it proved to be a huge success – attracting more than 5,000 buyers and generating $11.6 million in estimated sales. That momentum carried over to this year’s event, which attracted more than 300 exhibitors from 30 countries, including the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, China, Thailand and Vietnam. More than 6,000 visitors attended from New Zealand and throughout the Oceania region.

This is one of the fastest growing regions for U.S. pork, despite regulatory restrictions that limit U.S. exports to cooked and processed products and chilled/frozen pork destined directly for designated cooking facilities. U.S. pork exports to the Oceania region hit an all-time high last year of 70,765 metric tons (156 million pounds) valued at just under $225 million. This represented an increase of more than one-third in value over 2010 and a 70 percent increase since 2009.

While Australia accounts for most of the U.S. pork destined for the Oceania region, New Zealand is also a significant market. Through April, 2012 pork exports to New Zealand are 15 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (2,696 metric tons or 5.94 million pounds) and 18 percent higher in value ($8.4 million).

Last year New Zealand officials decided to modify the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS)-related requirements for imported chilled/frozen pork from the United States, Canada, the European Union and Mexico, proposing to allow imports of consumer-ready, unprocessed pork cuts in packages of three kilograms or less. The decision was made over strong opposition from the local pork industry, which continues to fight for its reversal. An appellate court in New Zealand recently upheld the proposed change, but the New Zealand Pork Industry Board filed an additional appeal that is expected to be heard in November.

If New Zealand ultimately modifies its import requirements, a strong opportunity will open up for USMEF to introduce a wider range of pork products while continuing to aggressively market the cooked and processed pork items that have already gained popularity here. Samples provided at Fine Food New Zealand included pre-cooked bacon, bone-in ham, spiral-cut ham, shredded barbecue pork, roast pork loin, boneless hickory-smoked pork ribs and pork baby back ribs.

“Fine Food New Zealand is a small-scale show compared to some others in this region,” said USMEF-ASEAN Director Sabrina Yin. “But we had excellent opportunities to communicate with foodservice operators, retailers and distributors, as well as the traders and processors we often work with in this market. While expanded access for U.S. pork is still a sensitive topic here, we see solid potential for growth in New Zealand.”