Steps to exporting processed food

Exporters of processed food must know the formulation of their food when there's more than one ingredient. Depending on what the food is made of, exporters may need to meet different requirements under various food regulatory regimes. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.

Follow the steps 

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Step 1: What you need to know

An overview of exporting processed food from start to finish.

Requirements will vary

Processed food is also known as composite or multi-ingredient food. Examples of processed food include dietary supplements, fruit juice, chocolate, cereals, olive oil, and ready-to-eat meals. Export requirements differ between markets and depend on the ingredients used. To export, you must meet all:

  • New Zealand domestic food regulations
  • the requirements of the destination market.

Not all ingredients will have access to all markets. 

You may need to check several documents to find out everything you have to do:

You may also have to check:

You should also ask an importer in the export market to find out any in-market regulations.

Become familiar with the export process

To export processed food products successfully you need to know about:

  • the requirements relating to your type of business
  • the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and New Zealand food standards, including labelling and packaging requirements
  • the ingredient(s) of your product, and follow the relevant export processes for each ingredient
  • the requirements of your destination country for all of your product's ingredients
  • export clearance requirements
  • relevant fees and charges.

More details are in Step 2 – what you need to do.

Know your ingredients

You need to know the ingredients for your product, because you'll need to comply with all overseas market requirements for each of the product's ingredients. There's a separate process to follow for each type of ingredient. If your product contains a mix of animal-based and plant-based ingredients, you'll need to follow processes for the individual ingredients – plant based and animal based. More information about the processes are in Step 2.

Multi-ingredient foods and other prepared foods that do not principally consist of animal material or product and don't need official assurances don't have to comply with the animal product export requirements. To find out whether your product has to comply, refer to the relevant animal product export process page and check the destination country's requirements.

Products containing wine or fruit wine

If your product's ingredients include New Zealand grape wine, or fruit wine, cider, or mead, you'll have to also follow the steps for exporting:

Information for organic exporters

If you're exporting organic products, you need to know about the Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP). This programme is designed to help with exporting organic products to specific markets.

Are you using wood packaging?

If you use wood packaging products other than paper for your processed food products, check that the packaging meets the phytosanitary requirements of the destination country. Some countries may require you to treat your wood packaging to make sure it's free of pests and diseases.  

Step 2: What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

Comply with the Food Act 2014

Exporters of processed food must operate under a food control plan or national programme.

Note: Existing businesses can continue to operate under a food control plan or the food hygiene regulations until their transition to a food control plan or national programme.

Comply with New Zealand legislation and food standards

You need to meet labelling requirements and all relevant food standards, regulations, and requirements for your product.

Find out more by referring to the:

Meet all of the requirements of the destination country

For each of your product's ingredients you'll need to follow the relevant process for each ingredient, and meet any requirements set by the destination country.

Animal-based ingredients
If your product contains Follow this process
Dairy Steps for exporting dairy products 
Meat Steps for exporting meat products 
Seafood Steps for exporting seafood products 
Honey or bee products Steps for exporting honey or bee products 
Eggs Steps for exporting egg products 
Poultry meat Steps for exporting poultry meat products 

It will also pay to ask your importing agent in the destination country whether there are any specific requirements to meet.

Some destination countries may ask a free sale certificate (FSC), or a free sale statement (FSS).

Plant-based ingredients

If your product contains plant-based products like fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds or nuts, you'll need to also follow the steps for exporting:

Products containing wine or fruit wine

If your products' ingredients include New Zealand grape wine, or fruit wine, cider, or mead, you'll have to follow the steps for exporting:


Step 3: Getting your export documentation

How you know you've met MPI requirements.

When MPI is satisfied that your processed food products comply with all requirements and standards for each of the ingredients, we will issue the applicable official assurances (export certificates).

Refer to the export processes for each ingredient for more details.

Who to contact

If you have questions about exporting processed food, email

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