December 7, 2021

Halal-certified red meat exports rose by 13% per cent during the 2020-2021 season, with most of it going to non-Muslim markets according to an analysis by New Zealand’s Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Exported of halal product topped 471,000 tonnes in the 12 months ending 30 September, accounting for almost half (46.5%) of all red meat and offal exports. This compared to just over 417,300 tonnes during the prior 2019-2020 season, with demand more than doubling since 2015-2016.

China drives export surge

China was the largest market for New Zealand halal-certified red meat, taking 74% of the total, a 23% hike on the previous year partly due to shortages as a result of African Swine Fever. The United States was the second highest export market with just over 20,000 tonnes, followed by Canada at almost 19,000 tonnes, Indonesia with 17,604 tonnes, and Saudi Arabia with 7,710 tonnes.

Other significant markets were Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates, while other countries also purchased a combined 41,261 tonnes – about 10% of the total.

Recruiting halal butchers from abroad

Certification is a requirement in regions such as the Middle East, but in other countries, certification is a response to consumer demand. Sirma Karapeeva, the CEO of MIA, commented: “As an industry, we need some 250 qualified Muslim butchers in order to operate halal processing at capacity. Our challenge is that New Zealand’s Muslim community is very small. We have to look to migrant workers to fully fill halal butcher positions around the country, and Covid-19 has made this increasingly difficult.”

MIA said that while those 250 positions represent less than 1% of the total meat industry workforce, they contribute to around 40% of the meat sector’s export revenue. “Halal processing is now a cornerstone of the industry’s business model,” noted Karapeeva.

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