5 Aug 2013

Dismay at milk powder ban: exporters

8:39 pm on 5 August 2013

Members of the Infant Formula Exporters Association are dismayed to be caught up in the bans on baby formula even though none of its 20 members use the protein concentrate at the heart of a contamination scare.

China has suspended the importation of all Fonterra products that include whey or milk powder, while Russia has imposed a ban on all New Zealand dairy products. Other countries may follow suit.

The association's chief administrative officer Chris Claridge said the ramifications of the ban are huge.

"Anything that harms the reputation of New Zealand harms exporters, particularly with infant formula which is product that mothers worldwide buy on the basis of trust.

''Anything that diminishes that trust in the product can cause stress and concern to the mother and therefore that impacts on their choice of purchase."

Mr Claridge said he expects to see a drop in the sale of baby formula over the next three to four weeks and he does not believe the crisis will be sorted out quickly.

"Our members are deeply concerned about the lack of integrated cohesive and coherent communication from New Zealand to the rest of the world.

"Consumers should have been told straight away what product and what brands are impacted. The industry should have been told straight away so as we could report back to our distribution networks worldwide 'this is what's happening, this is the result and this is how we are going to manage it.

"There is an absence of leadership in the management of how we as a country represent ourselves to the rest of the world when it comes to food safety."