Delay for dairy at China ports

Another week, another problem with our food exports to China:

New Zealand dairy products ranging from milk powder to mozzarella cheese are being held on the wharves at Chinese ports as officials debate what form of additional testing should be applied following Fonterra Cooperative Group’s whey protein scare.

The Ministry of Primary Industries in Wellington confirmed to BusinessDesk late last week that exporters other than Fonterra are experiencing delays.

However, it appears the problem is not a blanket ban or evidence of anything more than the fact that authorities at each Chinese port are interpreting centrally issued orders to apply caution to dairy imports into China with additional caution. . .

Soundings in China by BusinessDesk suggest demand for Fonterra’s ingredients by Chinese food manufacturers and demand in supermarkets for New Zealand-sourced infant milk formula have been unaffected after a sharp, initial reaction when the issue was first revealed. . .

Trade officials are at pains to stress the issue reflects the fact that while China issues regulations from Beijing, these are interpreted autonomously by officials operating at each port. While delays to a wider range of New Zealand dairy products may persist for some time, they reflect caution rather than a punitive attitude, despite early Chinese media coverage deeply critical of Fonterra’s third Chinese food scare since 2008. . . .

There might be some politics and protectionism in the mix here but you can’t blame them for being cautious.

That caution reinforces the importance of the investigations being undertaken in the wake of Fonterra’s precautionary recall of products containing a small batch of whey protein concentrate.

They need to find answers to many questions about how the issue was handled which reassure customers and officials that our standards of food safety are as high as they can be.

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