20 Dec 2010

Industry hopes for increased beef trade to Malaysia

12:54 pm on 20 December 2010

The Meat Industry Association is hoping a new agreement arrangement with Malaysia will help restore the beef trade there.

The arrangement, signed last week, sets out how New Zealand will meet Malaysia's halal requirements for Muslim consumers.

Trade and Food Safety Ministers Tim Groser and Kate Wilkinson see it as an important first step to improving access to one of New Zealand's most important halal markets.

While sheep-meat exports to Malaysia have grown, the beef trade has been restricted since 2005, when Malaysian auditors delisted most beef plants for failing to fully comply with that country's new halal standards.

The association hopes the new arrangement will help the trade.

But chief executive Tim Ritchie says it will be up to processors to decide whether they want to meet the conditions which are more stringent.

"Their requirements are pretty stringent, but it's good to have clarity," he said.

The Food Safety Authority introduced new standards of halal certification earlier this year and Mr Ritchie says the 'halal notice', as it's called, has been an important step in getting the trade back on to a firmer footing.

Beef processors wanting to export to Malaysia again will have to have their plants and procedures audited by Malaysian authorities.

Mr Ritchie says Indonesia is currently New Zealand's biggest halal beef market. The trade is worth well over $100 million per year.