Meat company Affco’s first shipment of chilled meat has landed in China.
The consignment was part of a trial which enables the meat to be shipped, chilled and aged during the 21-day shipping period, so it is in prime condition on arrival.
Affco chairman Sam Lewis said the shipment would be followed by many more.
“The speed at which the meat industry has taken up this opportunity is very impressive, considering the Government access agreement was only announced by Minister Nathan Guy at the end of March,” Lewis said.
Lewis was in Zhengzhou, China, to celebrate the milestone with distributor Kangyuan, along with Trade Commissioner Liam Corkery and Ministry for Primary Industries representatives Dave Samuels and Steve Sutton.
The 20 foot container of beef will be distributed by Kangyuan to food service and retail outlets throughout the Henan province in east-central China.
Affco China sales manager Clint Bailey said the shipment had been backed up by a significant volumes of both sheep meat and beef.
Bailey said he was surprised at how quickly the Chinese market had adapted for the chilled consignments.
“It has blown my mind how well equipped these guys are, they have got up to speed much quicker than anticipated.”
Affco had been working with its Chinese partners in the lead up to the pilot so they could make the most of the trial window. Preparations included visits from Chinese butchers to Affco plants to find the best way to cut meat to extract the most value for the market.
“What we’ve found is that for sheep meat in particular, chilled Western cuts are not the way to go. It’s got to be cut Chinese style to get the most from the carcass.”
To resolve this, Affco had shipped chilled mutton carcasses whole, which will be cut to specification at their destination. Whole carcasses are worth almost twice as much to the Chinese than traditional Western cuts, which are often under utilised in their market.
“Sending something in carcass form might seem counter intuitive to a value-add offering, but value needs to be assessed through the eyes of the customer and their willingness to pay for it.
“With chilled imports to China now an option, sending a high-quality whole carcass to the right customer means select Chinese consumers can purchase New Zealand product on a ‘cut-to-order’ basis.”
Bailey said Affco was adding value from the “bottom up” to all of its meat and every part of the carcass, not just from the top down with the European high end market.
“Traditionally mutton has been worth around a third of a lamb, initiatives like this offer us the opportunity to close the gap between that pricing.”
Another upside to the chilled programme was that it would help maintain frozen volume pricing. With up to 20 per cent of the frozen volume taken away in chilled form, there will be less pressure to move supply.
“Needless to say, we’re excited about the opportunities this chilled programme could open up, let’s hope this is just the beginning.”
story – NZ Farmer