What are processed foods?
Processed foods include any foods that have been modified from their fresh or whole state. Processed food is also known as composite or multi-ingredient food.
Food can be processed by, for example:
- blast freezing (frozen).
Processed foods also include any product that has multiple ingredients.
Examples of processed food with multiple ingredients include:
- olive oil
- ready-to-eat meals.
Steps to exporting processed food
The requirements differ between markets and depend on the ingredients used. To export, you must meet all:
1. Check domestic requirements for your product
Manufacturers of processed food must operate under a food control plan or a national programme.
Find out about food control plans and national programmes
Your processed food product needs to be sourced from premises that are registered. This means they have been approved by MPI. You can check our register to see if a premise is already listed.
Check what premises are registered
Ingredients in your product need to meet compositional requirements. This includes things like permitted levels of food additives and levels of certain ingredients. Your product also needs to meet labelling requirements.
Find our guidance on labelling and composition of food and drink sold in NZ
Processed food containing animal products
Note that manufacturers who handle animal products may need to operate under a risk management programme (RMP).
2. Check destination market requirements
Contact an importing agent of the country you're exporting to early to check you are meeting all your requirements. Importing agents can advise on specific requirements such as labelling or if you need an import permit.
If a food product contains ingredients from an animal, you may need an export certificate. This applies to any ingredients derived from animals such as meat, dairy, or honey.
Check the OMAR (overseas market access requirements) to find out what you need. Some markets require a certificate if the proportion of animal product is over a certain percentage. If your OMAR doesn't specify requirements for certification, check with your importer.
Find out about getting an export certificate
Free sale certificates
Some destination markets may ask a for free sale certificate (FSC). An FSC states that food made in New Zealand is safe and suitable for consumption.
Your importer can advise if you need an FSC.
Products containing multiple ingredients
You'll need to consider every ingredient in your product to export. If your product contains animal products, you will need to meet overseas market access requirements. If your product contains plant products, you will need to meet phytosanitary requirements. Each ingredient will need to meet the requirements in the OMAR or phytosanitary requirements. For example, a lasagne that contains beef and dairy might need certification for each ingredient.
If an importing market wants to know how you're meeting their requirements
Sometimes, when you're exporting a processed food, your importer might ask how you are ensuring that your product is safe and suitable for consumption.
Exporters may find it helpful to use this letter. It explains how the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) sets and administers the standards and regulations for New Zealand's food safety systems.
Letter to facilitate access for processed food [PDF, 126 KB]
Who to contact
If you have questions about exporting processed food:
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- phone 04 894 0269 during work hours.