17 Jun 2013

NZ surprised by Chinese demand for goods

4:19 pm on 17 June 2013

Food exporters say New Zealand has been unprepared for a massive demand for products from China for NZ products.

Four cabinet ministers are to lead a top-level review of the quality of food exports to China and the process of getting it there, after a series of serious problems.

Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated president Neil Trebilco said he believes the problems have arisen because of the sudden demand from China for New Zealand products.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said it took decades to develop trade relationships with Europe and America, and it will also take time for the relationship to develop with China.

China is New Zealand's second largest trading partner, worth $6.7 billion in exports last year, up 17% on 2011.

However, containers of meat have been left stranded on wharves in China after documentation errors this year, DCD residues were found in some dairy products and there was court action in China over double invoicing of kiwifruit exports.

The review team includes the Ministers of Trade, Primary Industries, Food Safety and Economic Development.

Trade Minister Tim Groser said there has been too much fragmentation and a more cohesive approach is needed.

Labour says the Ministry of Primary Industries is partly to blame for the problems. Primary industries spokesperson Damien O'Connor said making the Ministry of Primary Industries responsible for food safety and biosecurity had not helped exporters.