9 May 2011

NZ export prospects to Japan 'looking good'

7:35 am on 9 May 2011

New Zealand's reputation for growing clean, healthy food has exporters saying they're optimistic of good returns from Japan this year, despite the devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck that country in March.

Exports to Japan stood at $3.3 billion for the year to March making it New Zealand's fourth largest trading destination.

Japan is the biggest market for kiwifruit provider Zespri consuming 17% of the marketer and exporter's total output and returning about $380 million - 30% of the company's annual income.

Zespri spokeswoman, Melanie Palmer the company has already sent about 10 vessels to Japan since the end of March, carrying roughly 30% of its supply to that market.

She says reports from Japan are that healthy food is moving off the shelves quickly so the company is cautiously optimistic about export prospects for the year.

Another food exporter, New Zealand King Salmon, which makes about $15 million annually from 1000 tonnes of exports to Japan, says sales have increased about 10% following the disasters.

King Salmon spokesman Grant Rosewarne says New Zealand's good reputation for for food safety has boosted exports.

Meat processor and exporter ANZCO would normally earn $280 million a year from its Japanese exports and says it this has reduced by only a few hundred thousand dollars.

ANZCO chairman Graeme Harrison says distribution problems caused by the tsunami forced the company to freeze some meat, lowering its value.

Mr Harrison says ANZCO's prospects look good in Japan this year.