5 Jun 2011

Growers monitor effects of Europe E. coli outbreak

7:02 pm on 5 June 2011

Horticulture New Zealand says fruit and vegetable exporters will keep a close watch on the deadly E. coli outbreak in Europe and what it may mean for them.

The outbreak, which has killed 18 people, has been linked to vegetables and Russia has decided to buying vegetables from European Union countries.

Horticulture NZ president Andrew Fenton says the E. coli health risk is very significant and something the New Zealand industry works hard to guard against.

He says exporters are waiting to see if there'll be any extra demand for New Zealand fruit and vegetables in Europe.

There may be immediate opportunities for kiwifruit, appleas and onions, he says, however this could be limited by the is a six to eight week turnaround in shipping extra produce to Europe.

New Zealand exports more than $600 million worth of horticultural products to Europe each year, with kiwifruit and apples making up the majority.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, says New Zealand imports a small number of vegetables from the European Union.

The spokesperson says they make up 1% of the value of the country's total vegetable imports.