12 Sep 2013

Infant formula exporters acknowledge Govt recovery plan

6:47 am on 12 September 2013

New Zealand infant formula exporters say the Government is taking the right steps with its market recovery plan to repair the damage in key dairy markets from Fonterra's botulism false alarm.

The Government measures include getting full access restored to markets where restrictions have been imposed.

Ministers and senior officials will visit key markets.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise will also have a new $2 million fund at its disposal to help dairy product exporters with a turnover of under $500,000 to visit the markets to rebuild their reputation with customers.

Trade Minister Tim Groser says it is based on a successful fund set up to help exporters recover from the Christchurch earthquake in 2011, which was taken up by 247 companies.

He says smaller companies need face to face contact and these companies have been the "meat in the sandwich" in the Fonterra situation.

The Infant Formula Exporters Association, representing small and medium sized operators, says its members have lost millions of dollars in cancelled or blocked sales because of Fonterra's whey contamination alert.

Chairman Michael Barnett, who will be leading a delegation of exporters to China later this month, says the Government support measures will help.

He says some of the support will be finance and some will be resources from offices in China.

Mr Barnett says the Government has recognised that more people on the ground in China will make the exporter's task of regaining ground it has held in the past a lot easier.

He says the longer New Zealand exporters are out of the market, the greater the opportunity for other nations to take advantage of that.

"Our biggest issue right now is one of urgency and of getting in front of the Chinese people and giving them confidence in the New Zealand brand."

Mr Barnett says it's good that a fund will be available to call on.