After a long legal challenge, fresh U.S. pork will soon be eligible to be sold in New Zealand. The New Zealand Supreme Court recently declined to overturn regulations – originally issued in 2011 – that will allow U.S. chilled and frozen pork to enter New Zealand in retail-ready packages of 3 kilograms or less. Relief will also be extended to imports from Canada, the European Union and the state of Sonora in Mexico.
New Zealand's imports of U.S. pork (and pork from other destinations listed above) have been limited to pre-cooked products or pork shipped directly to designated cooking facilities in New Zealand. These restrictions were put in place in 2001 as a measure designed to prevent the introduction of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) – a viral disease affecting pigs – into New Zealand. But as Joel Haggard, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for the Asia Pacific explains, the new import regulations are the result of a thorough, science-based risk assessment conducted by regulators in New Zealand.
While still a fairly small market, U.S. pork exports to New Zealand grew from just $4.4 million in 2003 to nearly $24 million in 2012. U.S. exports slowed slightly in 2013, but should finish the year at about $22.5 million. New Zealand's pork imports from all sources grew from $42 million in 2003 to about $118 million last year. Haggard says that with USMEF's strong network of importer contacts, the ability to offer fresh/frozen items in retail outlets should create new opportunities for U.S. pork in this increasingly competitive market. Other pork suppliers serving New Zealand include Canada, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Australia (among these, only Australia is not subject to PRRS-related restrictions).