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New Zealand Supreme Court Issues Favorable Ruling on Imported Pork

Chart comparing U.S. Pork export value to New Zealand yearly from 2003 through 2013 in U.S. dollars

On Dec. 20, the New Zealand Supreme Court declined to overturn the Director General of Agriculture’s order to approve raw pork imports. When implemented, the new import regulations would 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.

Since being issued in 2011, these regulations were the subject of an ongoing court challenge filed by domestic pork industry trade association NZ Pork, which wants to keep existing import restrictions in place. Currently, New Zealand’s imports of imported pork from the United States (and other destinations listed above) are limited to cooked products, canned (or equivalent) products and unprocessed fresh/frozen pork that must be shipped to a designated facility in New Zealand for cooking. 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.

A summary of the Supreme Court order is available online, and an industry response to the decision is posted on the NZ Pork website. USMEF will have further updates on implementation of the new regulations when more information becomes available.

Chart comparing New Zealand Pork imports yearly from 2003 through 2013 in U.S. dollars

Although U.S. exports to New Zealand are down slightly this year, it has proven to be a promising market for U.S. pork. Exports through October totaled 7,224 mt (-6 percent from a year ago) valued at $21.3 million (-7 percent). Despite being subject to restrictions, U.S. pork exports to New Zealand achieved steady and significant growth over the past decade, as indicated by the chart below:

While U.S. exports will benefit from broader access, it is important to note that this change will be implemented at a time of increasing competition in New Zealand’s imported pork market. The United States was still New Zealand’s largest single-country supplier of imported pork in value in 2013, but Canada surpassed the U.S. as volume leader. Imports from Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Germany also increased last year, as the presence of European pork in the New Zealand market continued to grow. Market share for Australian pork has declined in recent years, even though it has not been subject to PRRS-related restrictions.