A big boost in Halal-certified red meat exports this season with a 13% rise and somewhat ironically most product going to non-Muslim markets. New Zealand exported a total of 471,072 tonnes of halal product compared to 417,323 tonnes during 2019-2020, with China at 341,618 tonnes the largest market. The US was next with 20,042 tonnes. Demand has more than doubled since 2015 when halal-certified red meat exports totalled 232,328 tonnes. Meat Industry Assn CEO Sirma Karapeeva says the biggest challenge is finding 250 qualified Muslim butchers to keep halal processing at capacity. New Zealand’s Muslim community is very small with only 100 New Zealand resident halal workers recruited each year and 150 halal butcher positions around the country. Sirma Karapeeva says that number is less than one per cent of the total meat industry workforce, but contributes to around 40 per cent of the sector’s export revenue. She wants the Government for an enduring solution that allows migrant halal butchers into NZ under special visas to keep the industry alive.