16 Mar 2016

Chinese ban kiwiberry imports

4:47 pm on 16 March 2016

Kiwiberry exporters are scrambling to find customers for their fruit after Chinese authorities banned imports.


The kiwiberry Photo: Seeka

The fruit was previously allowed into China because of its similarity to kiwifruit but has now been reclassified.

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) spokesperson said it was working with Chinese authorities to resume the trade as quickly as possible.

Seeka and FreshMax are the two main New Zealand exporters of kiwiberry, which is also known as arguta and baby kiwi.

Seeka chief executive Michael Franks said about 200,000 to 300,000 trays were exported each year, and a 1.5kg tray was worth about $US30, making it a high-value product.

It had been a bumper crop this year, and China's decision had taken them by surprise, Mr Franks said.

"The industry has had to scramble. Kiwiberry is typically a short cycle product, so we're harvesting it, processing it, packing it and flying it," he said.

"I think it's concerning that somehow or another it fell off the list without being noticed, or the change was made and someone, somewhere didn't realise the significance of what was being done."

The issue sat outside the free trade agreement, Mr Franks said.

"It's really around the protocols that allow a product or a fruit to be imported into a country. Now the regulations have been changed so that only specific varieties of kiwifruit are listed on the input, and argute was left off the list and we won't be able to get it back on in time for export there this year."

He believed MPI was fast tracking the process, and kiwiberries should be exporting to China again next year.