Fonterra chairman Peter McBride says the co-operative ended the 2021 financial year in a strong position on several fronts – financial results, strategy implementation and relationship with farmer owners.
This is particularly so in the present Covid-19 environment and Loughlin says NZ companies need to be aware of the strict Chinese health requirements, or risk being excluded from that market.
China is very concerned about the possibility of Covid coming into the country on imported products and he says there is a belief the virus can survive on packaging materials stored in cool environments. Loughlin says NZ meat companies have to be aware of China’s high import standards – especially in regard to Covid.
“The Chinese are a net importer of food and it has to strike a balance about keeping Covid out and keeping its people safe,” Loughlin told Rural News. “There is no indication that they will ban individual countries from sending product to China because of Covid-related matters. But, at the same time, they have removed access on a temporary basis for individual meat processing sites that have had problems.”
He says, in extreme cases, if the Chinese have felt all is not right with a company, they have banned imports from that company.
Suspensions can take a long time to reverse and in some cases a year. “Their approach is that they need to be satisfied on the controls at the individual processing plants and companies.”
Loughlin says there are also instances when the bans have been lifted within a matter of days.
The companies most at risk are smaller, singlesite operations and Rural News is aware that no stone is left unturned by these companies to meet the strict Chinese standards, which can change depending on the Covid- 19 situation.
Loughlin says China is particularly demanding and there is an expectation within the Chinese Party system and government that it will keep people safe, hence the very high standard of import requirements.
“China came late to the world of global trade and didn’t have a set of import rules, so it looked around the world and took the most demanding standards from each country and pulled those into a package,” he explains. “They took something from one country and another thing from another country and so on – so that’s why Chinese standards are so high.”
Loughlin says in China there is a big expectation on government officials that imported goods will meet the higher standards and will keep their people safe.
He says China and NZ have taken similar approaches to dealing with Covid by trying to stamp out the virus and that bodes well for us.
Loughlin believes NZ is very capable of meeting the Chinese standards but warns companies can never relax their vigilance on this issue.