NZ's meat processing industry could grind to a halt in the next six months unless the Government acts to allow Muslim slaughtermen to come into the country.
According to analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA), the overall April export figures show an increase on April 2020 levels.
"We are seeing healthy signs that trade is returning to more regular pre-COVID 19 patterns alongside the ongoing strong demand from China as African Swine Fever drives a growing demand for protein such as beef and lamb," says MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva.
There were significant increases in the value of exports of chilled meat in April 2021 compared to April 2020, with sheepmeat up 20% to $65 million and beef up 48% to $45 million.
"These levels are similar to the pre-COVID-19 levels of April 2019, indicating that some of the pandemic-related disruptions that saw a reasonably large drop in chilled exports in April 2020 are starting to resolve," Karapeeva adds.
However, while meat exports were steady compared to a year ago, the current supply chain disruptions continue to put significant strain on all exporters, including the meat industry.
"Along with irregular shipping services and unreliable timetables, there's pressure on cold storage facilities and container parks. All of this means costs are rising at every stage of the supply chain.
"These issues have been raised with the Government by the Council of Cargo Owners, which represents the interests of New Zealand exporters and importers and we're seeking discussions around an urgent solution."