Meat Industry Association – Supporting New Zealand meat market access into the UK and EU

This story was showcased in our 2019/20 Annual Report

New Zealand’s red meat market access to the UK and EU has been seriously challenged by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union and how the industry responds is crucial to its continuing viability and prosperity.

In 2017, AGMARDT helped fund a joint project between the Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) to support the sector’s response to Brexit and seek to secure access to this critical market, representing around 23% of total red meat exports.  The project’s focus was to get urgent on the ground presence in the UK to ensure visibility and a voice for New Zealand’s red meat sector.

AGMARDT funding supported the appointment of Jeff Grant in London in June 2018. He was able to work closely with B+LNZ’s Europe representative, the New Zealand Government and commercial interests to help strengthen the red meat sector’s ties with the UK and safeguard New Zealand’s exports to this key market.

Sirma Karapeeva, Chief Executive of the MIA says the project has raised the sector’s visibility in the UK at a critical time of change. It created opportunities to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and help influence some of the UK’s thinking about its future.

As a result of this project, MIA and B+LNZ believe there is now a better understanding in the UK of New Zealand’s position on issues such as trade access, food safety regulation, animal welfare, environmental matters and climate change and will  stand New Zealand in good stead as the UK and New Zealand negotiate a free trade agreement. As well as MIA and B+LNZ now having a better understanding of the political drivers of Brexit and the UK’s aspirations in a post-Brexit world.

Another major impact of this project has been to drive a much closer relationship with New Zealand government officials both in New Zealand and posted offshore.

“Officials now have a much deeper understanding of the sector and the drivers behind our trade access positions. They also now see the sector as a collaborative partner that can be relied on to not only provide timely and credible information about the market and market trends, but that is also willing to invest in helping to protect its trade access.”

While the outbreak of Covid-19 did mean Jeff had to return to New Zealand in early 2020, he was able to work out his contract from New Zealand with a focus on transferring his UK based relationships to the MIA and B+LNZ and mapping out an advocacy strategy to support the recently launched negotiations of the UK/NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

“Given the urgency of the project and the cost involved, it wouldn’t have been feasible without additional funding support.  This project has been pivotal to strengthening our ties in the UK and EU, supporting advocacy and lobbying efforts for the EU/NZ FTA and better positioning us to maximise market opportunities.”