New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth just over $1 billion during March 2021, according to the latest analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).
Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the processing sector was recognised as a high-risk industry for transmission of the virus, due to the large numbers of people working closely together. She says Australia and the United States have already prioritised meat processing workers for vaccination because Covid-19 spread extremely rapidly in processing plants.
“US research has found that processing plants acted as transmission vectors, accelerating the spread of the virus into the surrounding population,” she says. “The New Zealand red meat industry took decisive action to proactively develop and implement safety protocols, which provide guidance and a minimum standard to enable our processors to continue safely operating.”
Karapeeva says there is no room for complacency. She says it’s absolutely critical that NZ fortifies its first line of defence. Both for the safety and wellbeing of its workers and communities and to safeguard the red meat sector’s significant contribution to the New Zealand economy, which is now heavily reliant on our export revenue.
“Most processors have nurses on site or arrangements with local medical centres, so are well positioned to undertake large scale vaccination programmes quickly,” she says.