5 Aug 2016

Zespri puts kiwifruit exports to China on hold

6:39 pm on 5 August 2016

Zespri has temporarily halted all kiwifruit exports to its biggest market, China, after fungus was reportedly found in two containers during routine checks.

Zespri Kiwifruit is loaded onto the Atlantic Erica at the Port of Tauranga.

Zespri kiwifruit is loaded onto the Atlantic Erica at the Port of Tauranga (file) Photo: Supplied

This comes after Chinese officials warned Zespri last month there could be retaliation if New Zealand investigated claims of steel dumping.

But Zespri general manager of grower and external relations David Courtney told Checkpoint with John Campbell these sorts of issues did crop up from time to time.

He said the fungus had not been found before on New Zealand kiwifruit in China or in any other market, but it had been present on fruit in New Zealand for 20 years.

Shipping to China would be halted for up to a week to have the time to implement new protocols such as adding additional layers of checks before export, Mr Courtney said.

"If you flip it over and you think about it, if in New Zealand we had something come in and the biosecurity officials picked it up and it wasn't something that we had seen before then we would probably take similar precautions.

"And this is what is happening in this case."

China bought just under 20 percent, or about $500 million, of New Zealand's kiwifruit exports, Mr Courtney said, and China was responding appropriately to the risk.

A number of containers on the wharf in New Zealand due for departure would be repacked according to the new protocols, he said.

"Sales will continue on, this doesn't stop the pipeline ... it just slows it down.

However, fruit already on the water or sitting waiting to be cleared in China would be caught up in the suspension, he said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs