Butchers want Covid Change

Open Letter to The Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to you on behalf of the independent butchers of New Zealand to urgently reclassify local butcheries as essential services in line with dairies.

Like dairies, local butcheries have been the foundation of Kiwi communities for decades and are entwined in our community fabric. They proudly provide consistent, quality, nutritious products to all New Zealanders.

At their core, butchers are committed to serving our communities, and to do that, need to be reclassified as an essential service. If they are not, these mainstays of our community risk disappearing forever.

As a result of the first lockdown, many butchers have been left on the verge of financial ruin. Confused messaging in the lead up to the first lockdown in March meant many butchers stocked up on meat, only to be informed hours before Alert Level 4 came into effect, they would not be allowed to open. As a result, many butchers had to write off stock costing them tens, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As we have come back down the Alert Levels, butchers and their respective businesses have shown resilience and willingness to adapt. Their local communities have stepped up too, with stores receiving remarkable patronage. However, if their classification remains the same and we remain at Alert Level 3, many doors will never open again.

We know this situation is not unique to butcheries, and that many businesses across Aotearoa are suffering. We recognise supermarkets have and will continue to provide a remarkable service in keeping Kiwis fed. However, we plead with you to revise this catastrophic decision and allow independent butcheries to be reclassified as an essential service, allowing them to safely operate fully during Alert Level 3.

Our butchers are committed to operating safely with strict hygiene, physical distancing, contactless selling, and the use of the NZ COVID Tracer app. They can implement all the same processes that local dairies have followed throughout the alert levels.

Butcheries provide essential products to many vulnerable communities, particularly the elderly and those in rural areas, and ensure they will always have access to quality, nutritious food close to home.

Not only will a reclassification provide reassurance to New Zealanders, it will also help disperse huge volumes of traffic heading to supermarkets, alleviate the animal welfare issues for pig farms (as seen during the last lockdown), reduce unnecessary food waste, and support our local economies.

We are asking for butcheries to be given the same rights as dairies. Allow our butchers to do what they do best, serve and nourish their community.

For our people, our communities, and our country’s long-term economic health, our butcheries need to remain open.

Prime Minister please, please revise your stand. Help our butchers survive.

Yours Sincerely,

Pippa Hawkins

General Manager, Retail Meat New Zealand on behalf of butchers of New Zealand