NZ welcomes immigration boost

The announcement by the Government that an additional 500 meat processing workers from overseas will be allowed into New Zealand will help ease the sector’s chronic labour shortages, says the Meat Industry Association.

“We are approximately 2,000 people short and this situation is being exacerbated by a number of our people isolating or having to stay at home to look after family members due to COVID-19,” says Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA.

“Right now, there simply aren’t enough people to process every part of the carcass to maximise its value so these additional workers will certainly help alleviate pressure in the industry.

“Without sufficient labour, companies cannot run their processing plants at the desired capacity. This means less opportunities for hard-working Kiwis, often in the regions to earn a good wage and longer waiting times for farmers to get their livestock processed. That can have a flow-on impact for animal welfare, farmer wellbeing and the regional economy.

“However, with 12-14 weeks left to run this season, we are relying on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Immigration New Zealand to ensure they have robust and efficient processes in place to grant these visas as soon as possible so our companies can get these migrants into New Zealand and into jobs.”

The meat processing sector predominantly employs New Zealanders with migrants accounting for less than five per cent of the total workforce, says Ms Karapeeva.

“However, these migrants play a critical role. By way of example, 10 migrant workers enable one night shift to run at a plant, employing 70 New Zealanders.

“New Zealand currently has very low unemployment, particularly in our regions and getting people to relocate is not easy.

“This is despite the sector offering on-job training, strong career paths and very competitive salaries, in many cases above the median wage.”


For more information, please contact:
Sirma Karapeeva
021 256 5347

Notes to editor:
The Meat Industry Association of New Zealand is the voluntary trade association representing processors, marketers, and exporters of New Zealand red meat, rendered products, and hides and skins. MIA members represent 99 percent of domestic red meat production and export. The red meat industry is a critical part of New Zealand’s economy, and the second largest goods exporter. It is New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry, employing some 25,000 people in about 60 processing plants, mainly in the regions.