3 Mar 2017

NZ meat to return to Iran under new agreement

5:12 pm on 3 March 2017

Sheep and beef meat could be shipped to Iran in the next month under a new agreement, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

 Sheep waiting for sale

Iran is keen to import lamb, wool and seafood, says Nathan Guy. Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray

Mr Guy has been in Iran this week and signed a deal between the two governments that will resume sheep and beef exports, now that trade sanctions have been lifted.

During the visit Zespri also signed a statement of intent with Iran's Ministry of Agriculture, acknowledging the potential of the Iranian market as a large fruit consuming and growing country.

Mr Guy said Iran was keen to import lamb, wool and seafood, and farmers would reap the benefits of the deal sooner rather than later.

"It will probably mean we can get the first shipment away in the next month or two. They need to go through a similar process a bit like halal, so that will mean they'll have to come in and certify a plant or two.

"I'm hopeful that we can do that before the end of the lamb season, which is quickly approaching."

The important thing was to get connections re-bonded back into Iran, said Mr Guy.

"We haven't been doing a lot in the red meat industry out there [in Iran] for a long time. Now we've paved the way it'll be up to industry working from company to company.

"The companies I've met in Iran are very keen to do deals with the like of Silver Fern Farms, Taylored Foods."

Mr Guy said the Iranian market had big potential.

"It could be over time a significant market for particularly lamb, but in the future it could be beef as well."