That phrase might have new meaning in Hawke’s Bay.
Back in July last year we reported on the border closure impact on meat processing in NZ and here in Hawke’s Bay. (See: HB meat processing threatened?)
And now here we are in January with the latest frontpage headline in Rural News: Govt killing red meat sector?
The threat stems from the fact that virtually all meat processing in Hawke’s Bay and throughout the NZ meat industry involves the ‘halal’ method.
‘Halal certified’ requires that only a Muslim man can slaughter the animal and the entire processing must involve utensils, equipment and machinery cleansed according to Islamic law. Fully 90% of NZ meat is slaughtered by the halal method.
This process optimizes the marketing opportunities for NZ meat, enabling it to be sold to Muslim consumers overseas. NZ red meat exports worth $3 billion are ‘halal certified’, destined mainly for the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
The problem? The industry requires about 50 migrant Muslim slaughtermen to supplement the domestic workforce, but the Government recently awarded only 15 slots for halal workers against that need.
Although the numbers seem small, this is a critical pinchpoint that could shut down the region’s meat processing lines.
Rural News quoted Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association: “There is a strong prospect of killing chains shutting down, export dollars lost – along with jobs for New Zealanders working in the country’s meat processing plants – if we don’t let these people into NZ.”
Karapeeva had previously told BayBuzz that the region’s processing plants, listed below, required about 25 halal slaughtermen, of whom 16 at the time were from overseas with expiring visas.
How might this affect Hawke’s Bay? Silver Fern Farms’ Takapau processing facility employs 700 staff in peak season. AFFCO’s Wairoa plant employs another 650. Both plants are 100% halal.
Karapeeva emphasized, “Ultimately, there is a religious component in this that we can’t do anything about. We are not going to be setting up a conversion centre to convert good Kiwi blokes into Muslim slaughtermen.”
Here is the list of Hawke’s Bay’s halal-certified processing plants:
- Bostock Brothers – Hastings, poultry
- Progressive Meats – Hastings, beef, deer, goat, sheep
- Graeme Lowe Tannery – Hastings, beef
- Lowe Corporation Pacific – Napier, beef, young calves
- AFFCO – Wairoa, beef, goat, sheep
- Silver Fern Farms – Whakatu, beef
- Silver Fern Farms –Takapau, goat, sheep, young calves, beef
- Fresh Meats NZ – Napier, sheep
- NZCC Limited – Whakatu, sheep
Of course, animal welfare and environmental considerations might someday persuade many consumers to eschew meat consumption anyway, but that’s a story for another time.