19 Aug 2015

Russians say 'da' to New Zealand dairy imports

8:33 am on 19 August 2015

Some Russian restrictions on importing dairy ingredients from New Zealand are being lifted, two years after they were imposed because of a botulism scare.

Organic Jersey cow on a Rongotea farm.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Russian authorities are allowing in a limited range of products from 29 Fonterra plants, which the Minister of Trade has described as "a little piece of good news".

Those 29 selected plants will now be able to send dairy ingredients, including whey protein concentrate and milk protein concentrate.

Russia's Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, or Rosselkhoznadzor, removed the restrictions on Monday.

Tim Groser

Minister of Trade Tim Groser Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

New Zealand Minister of Trade Tim Groser said it was a step in the right direction, but Russia had been very, very slow to lift the restrictions when there had been no scientific justification for them.

He said the New Zealand ambassador to Russia visited the authorities there several times, to explain that every other country had lifted its restrictions, and it was time for them to do likewise, but without applying heavy political pressure.

Asked what percentage these products and number of plants make up of what used to be exported to Russia, Mr Groser said it was about half of the 60-or-so Fonterra plants but could not say how big the plants were, and therefore how much they produced.

He described the amount of money lost in exports as "modest".

Mr Groser said talks would resume between veterinary scientists from New Zealand, and their Russian counterparts, in a bid to get the final restrictions overturned.

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