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Zespri working with Chinese authorities after fungus found with kiwifruit

Tuesday 2nd August 2016

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Zespri International, the kiwifruit marketer and exporter, says it is working with Chinese authorities who are monitoring New Zealand kiwifruit closely after some fruit entering the country was found with a fruit rot fungus.

Last Friday, China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) issued a risk notification and strengthened inspection and quarantine processes on New Zealand kiwifruit entering Chinese ports after routine testing uncovered a fungus on four containers of kiwifruit which had come into Tianjin Port in June.

A spokeswoman for Zespri said the fungus, Neofabraea actinidiae, has no food safety implications and Zespri's kiwifruit exports continue to flow into China.

"The information we have received indicates this is a technical issue and we are working with New Zealand and Chinese officials to understand the situation more fully,"  the spokeswoman said. "We’re about two-thirds of the way through shipping with 9 million trays still to ship to China from our total forecast volume of 24 million trays this season. Out of the 135 million trays we’re shipping this year a very small percentage of this inevitably goes off and is lost."

Zespri said the fungus had been found in a range of plants from other countries including Ecuador, the Netherlands, Australia and the United States. 

In June, the kiwifruit marketer raised its full-year profit forecast to between $70 million and $75 million for the 2016/17 year. Zespri is anticipating China will become its largest market by sales this year, reaching around $500 million.

The company said earlier this year that China was on track to become an exporter of kiwifruit and a competitor to all kiwifruit growing nations, and it's looking to source supply from within China and develop supply partnerships to underpin a long-term business.

Last month Zespri was forced to deny reports that it had been leaned on by Beijing over a potential investigation by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment into the dumping of steel by Chinese firms. However, it said it's local staff had received unsubstantiated information from an industry body in China and passed this onto New Zealand embassy officials.

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