The UK’s free trade deal with New Zealand offers “exciting opportunities” to increase the market share of its beef producers, one of the country’s largest red meat exporters has said.
The new trade deal came into force on 31 May and promises to gradually reduce import tariffs on New Zealand-sourced beef and sheepmeat over the next 15 years – with no duties at all from the 16th year (2038).
While the UK has long sourced lamb from the country, just 0.2% of New Zealand’s beef output currently made its way to the UK, said major farming co-operative Alliance Group.
And the supplier – which sources red meat from more than 5,000 farmers across New Zealand – was already in discussions with UK retailers, foodservice operators and food box businesses in a bid to increase its presence in the country, said Alliance Group regional general manager Helen Scott.
Leveraging the existing partnerships it had with British customers from its long-standing lamb exports to the UK, Alliance had a three-year plan to grow New Zealand beef’s market share, Scott added.
It is looking to enter the UK market with a premium ‘Handpicked’ beef range alongside a standard beef lineup, in both chilled and frozen options.
“We’ve already had a great deal of interest from our partners and we are looking to launch New Zealand beef this year,” she added.
The enactment of the trade deal comes despite stiff criticism from the UK farming sector and even former environment secretary George Eustice over terms seen to be favourable to New Zealand.
However, Scott stressed Alliance would be looking to build share “slowly and respectfully” over a number of years.
The FTA also included “several measures that safeguard UK farmers”, Alliance said. One example was a tariff rate quota, which automatically applies higher tariffs to imports above a certain volume threshold. For beef this lasted for 10 years, and for lamb 15 years.
The vast majority of fresh beef sold in UK supermarkets is currently sourced from the UK and Ireland.
“As a supplier to all of the major UK retailers, Alliance welcomes the FTA and sees it as an opportunity for high-quality New Zealand and British red meat products to sit side by side on shelf and, together, strengthen the category,” the business said.
“Red meat is a growth market and retailers are looking for consistency in product quality, well-planned production and logistics to ensure a plentiful supply and world-class food safety measures on farm and production – all key areas that we prioritise,” Scott added.
“The quality of our products perfectly aligns and complements the UK, which is renowned for its high quality and sustainable British foods. In fact, in a first for New Zealand, the FTA includes a chapter that recognises the high priority that we afford animal welfare in farming practices and acknowledges the comparability of both countries’ high standards in this area.”
Alliance was “a key producer of prime pasture-fed beef and our farming methods in New Zealand are quite different to the intensive high-impact systems often used around the world – particularly when it comes to beef meat”, she stressed.
“Our world-class beef is reared using our natural, low-intervention farming techniques in a low-stress environment, and is always grass-fed, resulting in meat that’s full of flavour, lean, tender and nutritious. We welcome the FTA which unlocks an important market for New Zealand farmers.”