Speaking at the Red Meat Sector conference in Napier last week, Mr Hunt said the Chinese market offered significant growth potential for New Zealand’s red meat sector and there was much the industry could learn from New Zealand dairy.
"New Zealand dairy product and companies have had a strong presence in the Chinese market for almost a decade and there is a great deal the red meat sector can learn from their experience over this period," he said.
Mr Hunt said by heeding the lessons from New Zealand dairy’s history in China - including seizing first-mover advantage, preparing for volatility and capitalising on growing Chinese consumer demand for safe and environmentally-friendly produce - the red meat industry had the potential to develop a winning formula that would maximise export earnings.
"We think there is a tremendous opportunity for New Zealand’s red meat sector in China. But it will only be realised if the sector adopts the right strategies and carefully manages the risks of what remains a very tricky market."
Mr Hunt said the opportunity the Chinese market offers New Zealand’s red meat sector starts with three crucial factors.
"Firstly, China is poor in arable land and water relative to its population, so as it gets richer, it knows it has to import more of its food. Secondly, this is a country that remembers food embargoes and famine, so those resources it does have will be prioritised for use in staple crops like rice and wheat - with local red meat production far less supported. And thirdly, the melamine crisis of 2008 transformed the willingness of Chinese consumers to pay for safe food, often from aboard," he said.
Together, these three factors ensure that as red meat consumption grows in China, much of it will be met by imported product - with New Zealand well placed to win a share of that opportunity, Mr Hunt said. . . . . .