Zespri is developing a new testing regime to prevent delays at the Chinese border due to a recent risk notification issued by the country saying shipments had been found carrying a fungus that could cause fruit to rot in storage. As Zespri “weather tightens” shipments of the fruit to China, it is temporarily halting all exports there.
Zespri has maintained the barrier at the border is a “normal market access issue”, rather than Chinese retaliation aimed at deterring the Government from investigating a complaint into allegations of steel dumping by China onto the New Zealand market.
Zespri confirmed on Friday 5 August that it had placed a temporary halt on all its shipments to China, while it works with the Ministry of Primary Industries to develop a thorough testing regime. Shipments were expected to be deferred for about a week.
“We are working with NZ kiwifruit suppliers and MPI to develop additional pre-shipping measures in response to AQSIQ’s risk notification issued after the find of the fungus Neofabraea actinidiae through routine testing on four containers of fruit which arrived at Tianjin Port on 8 June,” a Zespri spokeswoman said.
“Zespri’s rigorous quality systems for checking and rechecking our fruit means this affects only a tiny fraction of the 135 million trays we’re shipping this season,” the spokeswoman said.
New testing protocols would be implemented after approval from MPI, which Zespri hoped to have in the next few days.
“At which point we will resume exports to China for the 2016 season.
“We had forecast sales of another 8 million trays of kiwifruit to China this season, with around 1 million trays of this now being reallocated to other markets,” the spokeswoman said.
She confirmed a number of additional pallets were also placed on hold in China this week due to this issue.
“Sales of kiwifruit which have cleared the customs process in China continue as normal and our sales season continues positively in China, on track to exceed last year’s volume.
“However there is an increased risk of further finds of Neofabraea actinidiae from fruit still arriving in the market which has not been subject to the new protocols.”
She said the halt was to develop systems which would reduce the risk of any subsequent hold up at the Chinese border.
The decision to suspend Zespri’s shipments were made by Zespri alone.