29 Oct 2013

New export prospect for NZ potatoes

7:12 am on 29 October 2013

While the potato industry is still waiting for clearance to be allowed to send fresh potatoes to Australia, a new market is rapidly opening up.

The industry has high hopes for a new market in Vietnam.

Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Champak Mehta says that could happen before the end of this year, following discussions with Vietnamese officials in Wellington last week.

He says import requirements for that market could be finalised by December.

Mr Mehta says the Vietnamese traditionally use potatoes in their diet as a result of French influence on their cuisine.

Meanwhile, Mr Mehta says a proposal by Australia's agriculture department to allow imports of fresh New Zealand potatoes for processing has gone nowhere yet, with growers there continuing to block the move and a Senate report on the issue delayed for the third time.

However, he says Australia continues to be New Zealand's biggest export market for frozen potato products and that trade is growing. This year, 50,000 tonnes of frozen processed potatoes will be exported there.

Fiji is currently the biggest export market for fresh potatoes, he says.