Wednesday, 12 September 2012 15:48

Baby formula export probe

Written by 

NEW ZEALAND infant formula exports to China face growing scrutiny.

MPI is investigating whether proper procedures for such products are being followed. And the marketing tactics of some importers in China are causing concern for authorities and exporters here.

Auckland supermarkets were caught last year selling baby milk formula to Chinese exporters thousands of cans at a time while rationing them to other shoppers. This bulk trade was unknown to export authorities at the time. 

An MPI spokesman told Dairy News it has been investigating infant formula exports to China for some time but will not comment further until the investigations are over.

A premium has attached in China to New Zealand-made dairy products since the melamine tainted-milk scandal in 2008, when six children died and nearly 1000 were hospitalised after melamine was added to formula supposedly to increase protein content.

A growing number of New Zealand companies export own-brand formula to China but the product is sourced from only a few processors here. GMP Pharmaceuticals, Auckland, recently opened a factory supplying about 20 exporters.

One GMP customer, Cowala, used a picture of Prime Minister John Key to advertise its product. The picture was taken at GMP’s factory opening.

Another exporter, Abid, used a picture of the Prime Minister, mispelling his name as ‘Jhon Key’ next to a quote ‘I Love abid’.

GMP New Zealand manager Minesh Patel says the company is not marketing or selling infant formula. “We have written to all customers saying do not use any of our plant opening photos without our permission,” he told Dairy News.

The Infant Nutrition Council, representing most Australian and New Zealand infant formula exporters, knows of widespread concern among members. 

Chief executive Jan Carey says New Zealand milk and ‘brand NZ’ are highly prized by Chinese consumers. 

“The New Zealand brand is trusted and considered best quality. Some Chinese marketers will use any marketing trick to promote their ‘NZ brand’ whether genuine or not. This is a widespread problem. The Infant Nutrition Council, the New Zealand government and the Chinese government are all aware of this.”

Carey says it is helping in MPI’s investigation. Though infant formula trade from New Zealand is properly regulated, “some middle men are getting around the regulations”.

More like this

Four more years, mate

The NZ/China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) upgrade has brought little joy to the dairy industry.

Vladimir the dairy farmer

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a master tactician in taking advantage of international conflicts.

China still hungry for NZ dairy

Demand for New Zealand dairy products should remain solid despite China’s mixed economic outlook, says Imre Speizer, Westpac.

Stink bug warning for importers

A serious threat is posed to New Zealand’s agricultural and horticultural sectors by the brown marmorated stink bug (Halymorpha halys), MPI warns.

» The RNG Weather Report

Featured

Soil moisture: no more looking over the fence

Farm manager Bryan Mitchell describes as brilliant the SCADAfarm systems that allow him to remotely monitor and manage the irrigation of his 300ha of leased grazing land near Kirwee.

 

Separation gives constant result

Effluent separation offers a number of unique advantages, and opportunities that other systems don’t offer, says farm equipment manufacturer Rakaia Engineering Ltd (REL) Group.

Cultivating the right way

Cultivation of paddocks is common on farms at this time of year. It’s also a time when local storms may occur, adding substantial risk to an important farming practice.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Angry as usual

The usual culprits are angry at hearing last week that the Government and the agri sector will work together to…

Vladimir the dairy farmer

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a master tactician in taking advantage of international conflicts.

» Connect with Dairy News