New Zealand Has Most Number Of Dairy Products Rejected In China

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Milk Products
Milk for sale in a store in New York, April 7, 2011. Reuters/Lucas Jackson

New Zealand has topped China’s list of countries for most number of dairy import rejections. Customs data from a consumer Chinese website said about 14 percent of the total number of milk products discarded between Oct. 13 and Nov. 14 were from New Zealand.

The Shipin Anquan Kuaisu Jiance site did not specify the reason for the rejection. Radio NZ reports that rejected products in general are either returned to the country of origin or destroyed due to prohibited chemical use, expired items or excessive counts of E.coli bacteria.

According to New Zealand China Council executive Pat English, product returns may be related to errors in documentation. He said China is very particular when it comes to documentation.

The office of the Ministry for Primary Industries believes the rejection of New Zealand’s dairy could more likely be a technical error than food safety issues. Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said even without looking at the translation of the figures, he would not be surprised finding New Zealand at the top. He explained that New Zealand is the biggest milk exporter in the world and China buys a third of dairy exports.

In another example of technical error, Fonterra Cooperative Group failed to meet the documentation deadline for imports of New Zealand cheese in the U.S. The New Zealand dairy exporter has been locked out of the U.S. market due to “human error.”

Kelvin Wickham, Fonterra director of global ingredients, said the missed deadline meant Fonterra has failed to acquire licences to import New Zealand cheese in the U.S. for 2015. However, he revealed that Fonterra is trying to make deals with other holders of cheese licences in New Zealand to meet U.S. orders of cheese for the year. U.S. customers can still buy Fonterra cheese in their own country but under a different label.

Wall Street Journal reports that Wickham did not speak about the terms but the deals possibly involve payment for licencing fees. New Zealand’s cheese imports to the U.S. were worth $24 million in 2014 or NZ$33 million. Fonterra’s total dairy exports amount to NZ$14.5 billion. 

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