1 Mar 2015

Chinese 'not taking over formula industry'

11:35 am on 1 March 2015

An Auckland dairy company says Chinese businesses are competing aggressively but are not taking over the New Zealand infant formula industry.

Some infant formula companies have complained that new industry rules introduced last May were helping Chinese businesses.

Under the regulations, infant formula exports must be made by manufacturers accredited by China.

Managing director of Biopure Health Simon Page said Chinese businesses now owned about half of the 10 registered baby formula factories in New Zealand.

However, he said that was not an indication the rules were benefiting them.

Mr Page, whose Infapure brand has been approved for the China market, said the regulations were needed so that tainted products could be more easily tracked down.

"There rules came about after two fairly significant food safety scares on the part of New Zealand.

"So from the Chinese government point of view they've really just looked to strengthen their rules."

'Companies will adhere to rules'

A former ambassador to China said the country's two big state-owned dairy companies, which were expanding into New Zealand, would adhere to the rules.

Yashili, which is majority-owned by Mengniu will soon start production in its $220 million factory in Pokeno, south of Auckland, while Yili has a plant in Waimate.

Some Chinese companies had been charged and convicted at home for breaching food safety standards.

But, Tony Browne, who is now the chair of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre, said Mengniu and Yili would be making top-quality infant formula.

"They invest in New Zealand because they know the get top quality products, they know they've got a market for it, they know they they've got the technology to translate the New Zealand dairy products into products that China wants."

Mr Browne was ambassador in Beijing when the melamine-tainted milk scandal erupted in 2008.