14 Mar 2011

NZ exporters contact Japanese staff

8:05 am on 14 March 2011

Exporters with ties to Japan have been contacting staff and customers to check they are safe in the wake of Friday's deadly earthquake and tsunami.

Exports stood at $3.3 billion for the year to January, making Japan New Zealand's fourth largest destination.

Japan is important to the dairy giant, Fonterra and kiwifruit producer, Zespri, along with meat, fish, and forestry exporters.

Zespri has 17 staff in Tokyo, and the kiwifruit exporter and marketer says all are safe.

The company says 17% of its crop lands in Japan, and accounts for 30% of total sales value.

Harvesting starts in Gisborne soon, and kiwifruit is planned to arrive in Japan about mid-April. Zespri will assess that timetable over the next few weeks.

Another exporter, New Zealand King Salmon, air freights about 800 tonnes of salmon a year to Japan.

Marketing manager Don Everitt, says its two staff in Tokyo are safe and well, and its customers, including one in Sendai, are still placing orders, at least for the moment.

Mr Everitt says Narita airport outside Tokyo is open, but he's expecting disruptions trying to use roads to move produce.