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The Future of Meat Processing: Trends and Predictions in Collaboration with Kentmaster

December 8, 2023

Let’s include the history, present state and future aspects of various fields of meat processing.

The article will overview the new technology and trends creeping into the industry, what they bring on board and the dynamics they are likely to change.

For decades, Kentmaster has had immense experience in the meat processing business in New Zealand.

Here is a detailed overview of some of the main points:

The history of meat processing in New Zealand

The New Zealand meat industry grew to serve the market provided by Britain. The first proposal for canned meat was made in 1870, while the frozen carcasses were successfully taken for shipment after twelve years in 1882. 

Subsequently, frozen lamb carcasses exported to the UK grew. Farmers’ stock quantities increased, shifting from breeds that were good for wool only to those that provided meat and wool. The processing sector also expanded between 1882 and 1893; freezing works had risen from three to 21! Phenomenal growth 

These challenges included Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community in the 20th Century, which brought an end to almost unrestricted access to the US and hygiene standards set by Europe and the United States had to be adhered to.

Consequently, several companies shut down their older works in the mid-1980s. They had to look for markets as well as add value and quality.

The current situation of meat processing in New Zealand

Despite this, the meat industry in New Zealand continues to be an important contributor to the economy’s revenue, at over NZ$9.2 billion in recent times. 

For example, central export locations encompass China, the USA, the UK, and Japan. Its main exports are beef, sheep, venison, etc. It has a staff of about 25,000, spread mainly in the rural areas. 

Similarly, the industry is also moving forward on sustainability, animal welfare and food safety. Every aspect of the New Zealand Meat Board’s rules and regulations is implemented.

The new technologies and trends in meat processing

Consumer preferences, environmental concerns, and technological innovations present new opportunities and challenges to the meat processing industry in the 21st Century. Some of the new technologies and trends that are going to affect the meat processing chain are:

Artificial intelligence and robotics

Such technology can teach reasoning and decision-making powers associated with human intelligence. They may also carry out hands-on tasks like cutting, sorting and packing. 

Meat processing might become more efficient, productive, high quality and safe, besides reducing labour costs, risks and errors by use of artificial intelligence as well as robotics. They can also facilitate tailor-made meat products and give vital market performance and trends information.

Alternative meat products

The companies produce products that taste, feel, and appear like meat but are produced from plant-based or cell-based sources. Some plant-based meat products are composed of soy, pea or wheat proteins indistinguishable in nutritional profiles from those found in meat. Cell-based meat is produced by cultivating animal cells in a bioreactor

They may be identical to the molecular structure of meat. Hybrid meat products come from both plants and animal-based substances. Some meats may be considered as poor in nutritional value while having a high contribution to environmental effects. Alternative meat products yield benefits, including reducing animal husbandry, promoting health and animal welfare, and lowering emissions and resources used in meat production.

Nanotechnology and biotechnology

Millimeter, nanometer (1–100 nm), or molecular scale—Technologies in these scales can manipulate matter to create new and/or significantly improved materials, processes and products. 

Nanotechnology and biotechnology could be applied to meat preservation, offering the potential for utilising nanosized particles, coatings or sensors designed to enhance shelf-life properties and the safety of meat products. 

They are also suitable for assisting in meat improvement, where enzymes, antioxidants and probiotics can be applied to enhance the taste, diversify texture, and serve as a source of appropriate dietary food. 

Nanotechnology and biotechnology also present benefits, including mitigating additives, enhancing nutrient bioavailability and detecting spoilage or contamination in meat products.

Forecast for New Zealand Meat Production 2024

  • According to OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2022-2031, in New Zealand, the total meat production is projected to increase by 1.5% from 2022, reaching approximately 1600 hundred tonnes per year from this year. However, the majority of meat produced will be beef at 59%, followed by sheep meat, amounting to approximately 32%, and finally, poultry contributing to only 9%. Beef will increase by 2.4%, sheep meat decrease by 0.2%, and poultry production rise by 2.8%.
  • It is estimated that the combined meat exports from New Zealand will have grown by 2.4% by 2024 to reach about 1.4 million tonnes (NSWL, Initiating coverage on Alliance Group and Silver Fern farms). China will be the primary export market, followed by the US and UK, accounting for 46%,15% and 9% of total exports, respectively, with Japan coming in last at about 7%. 55%, 40%, and 5% of the total exports will be beef, sheep meat and venison. Beef exports will increase by 3.5%, venison by 3.8% and sheep meat by up to 1.6%.
  • The meat industry is New Zealand’s second-largest goods exporter; it earned the country item sales revenue of $10 billion in 2021, with 90% of that exported. The New Zealand Meat Industry Association also argues that the sector is sustainable, mindful of animal welfare and food safety, and adheres to the New Zealand Meat Board regulations. The industry is expected to continue expanding and changing in response to new opportunities, offerings, and emerging global contests.


The New Zealand meat industry is healthy. Processing facilities, slaughterhouses, abattoirs, butcheries and many others will find that with Kentmaster on the ground to consult and implement solid strategies for success already exist along with all the equipment necessary. It’s an exciting time with the new technology entering the market, which should lead to higher production, less wastage and naturally offer a safer environment for workers.  So all-in-all NZ is in good shape.