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Zespri to resume China shipments

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 15/08/2016 Edwin Mitson

Zespri International, the kiwifruit marketer, is due to resume shipments to China later this week following an overhaul of the process for checking kiwifruit prior to export.

On Aug. 5, the Tauranga-based company said it had temporarily halted exports to the country after China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) issued a risk notification and strengthened inspection and quarantine processes on New Zealand kiwifruit entering Chinese ports when it found the fungus Neofabraea actinidiae. It causes fruit to rot but has no food safety implications.

Prime Minister John Key last week insisted that there was no link between Zespri's problems and reports that China had threatened to retaliate if New Zealand launched an investigation into whether Beijing was selling steel to NZ below cost, a practice known as 'dumping'. Key told his weekly media conference that "people should be careful about joining dots."

In a statement, Zespri said its revised processes "have been approved by MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries) which is notifying the Chinese authorities."

Two more shipments of kiwifruit that have arrived in China have been identified as containing the fungus and the company says there may be more as the produce was dispatched before the new checking procedures were put in place. The fungus has affected around 2 per cent of the fruit that has arrived in China to date.

The issue has led to around 1 million trays of kiwifruit being rerouted to different markets, meaning Zespri will now sell an extra 7 million trays to China this year, rather than the 8 million expected. Zespri had been anticipating that China would become its largest market by sales this year, reaching about $500 million.

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