Chi­nese ban on cas­ings mys­tery

Taranaki Daily News - - Business -

‘When we eat a hangi some­where else, it re­minds us of home.’ John Tipene

New Zealand’s $160 mil­lion sheep in­tes­tine trade with China is in a mys­tery tem­po­rary halt as of­fi­cials work through ac­cess is­sues.

The in­testines – fa­mil­iarly known in the trade as ‘‘green run­ners’’ but in ex­port par­lance as cas­ings – are used to make sausages and a va­ri­ety of other prod­ucts. The to­tal global value of the trade to New Zealand is $300m.

A New Zealand meat in­dus­try del­e­ga­tion which re­cently re­turned from China was briefed on the is­sue. The visit in mid-June marked the first time the meat in­dus­try had showed a united front and was a sign of China’s grow­ing im­por­tance to the red meat trade.

To­tal red meat in­dus­try ex­ports to China are worth al­most $1.3 bil­lion. China ac­counts for 28 per cent of the value of all sheep­meat ex­ports, com­pared with the nextmost im­por­tant, the United King­dom, at 21 per cent.

The ban on cas­ings mys­ti­fies the in­dus­try, be­cause Aus­tralia has open ac­cess. Some have as­sumed it was a food safety is­sue.

Sil­ver Fern Farms board chair­man Rob Hewett said his com­pany had added 40 full­time work­ers to its Bal­clutha plant, where the cas­ings were cleaned and graded.

Un­til the wran­gle is sorted, the cas­ings are be­ing di­verted to other mar­kets, but the prices re­ceived are lower than from China.

Hewett said the trip was an eye­opener. ‘‘I saw more Maser­atis and Fer­raris in a few days in Bei­jing as I’ve seen in 12 years in New Zealand,’’ he said.

Sil­ver Fern sells ev­ery­thing from car­casses to cas­ings to pack­aged steaks. It has re­cently en­tered into an agree­ment with New Zealand Fo­cus in Shang­hai to sell on­line.

The Chi­nese were mov­ing away from chicken and pork in favour of red meat, he said. Sheep meat was pop­u­lar in north­ern China, and beef every­where.

‘‘We are in a good spot with our free trade agree­ment with China, our food safety record and clean im­age.

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