6 Oct 2011

Apple exporters claim Australian inspectors over-zealous

6:59 pm on 6 October 2011

The national pipfruit industry body is keeping a close watch on the way Australian quarantine inspectors are checking apples destined for export across the Tasman.

Exporters trying to get apples cleared for shipment are complaining about what they regard as the over-zealous approach taken by Australian inspectors.

Under the conditions for allowing New Zealand apples into Australia after a 90 year ban, the fruit is inspected at packhouses here for pests and diseases, before it's sent.

But packhouses and exporters say the standards they are applying are far tougher than for any other market, and the number of rejections have limited exports so far to a few hundred cartons.

Pipfruit New Zealand's chair Ian Palmer says it's monitoring the inspection process, but no-one should be surprised Australian inspectors are taking a tough line, because access for New Zealand apples is still a politically charged issue in Australia.

He says they need to collate the information that's available via New Zealand's exporters and packers.

Mr Palmer says Pipfruit New Zealand may need further discussions with MAF on what's needed to improve the situation.

He says the strictness of the apple inspections should reassure four Australian senators who will visit Hawke's Bay orchards and pack-houses later this month, at the Government's invitation.