Wednesday, 19 August 2015 09:50

New Zealand potatoes bound for Vietnam

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Fresh potatoes from New Zealand have been approved for export to Vietnam, providing a new export opportunity for growers.

Champak Mehta, chief executive of Potatoes New Zealand Inc, says the development, which follows four years’ of negotiations, would absorb excess potatoes in good growing seasons and provide better export prices for growers in less abundant years.

“We currently export about $100m of potatoes each year,“ says Mehta.  “Most of that is frozen, with about $15m worth – about 30,000 tonnes - exported as fresh produce.”

While most fresh product goes to Fiji, with some to other Asia Pacific markets, Mehta says New Zealand potatoes can supply the Vietnam market over a long period due to New Zealand’s exceptional storage conditions.

“New Zealand growers produce between 500,000 and 525,000 tonnes of potatoes each year and grow more than 50 commercial varieties, grown sequentially around the country, so we can offer a lot of choice,” he says.

“This is the result of a great deal of hard work by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and Potatoes NZ. It is good news for both our industry and for New Zealand exports in general, contributing to the Government’s goal of growing our primary sector exports to $20b by 2020.”

Gisele Irvine, biosecurity advisor with Market Access Solutionz Ltd (MAS), oversees the market access programme for Potatoes NZ. She says that before the first exports, inspectors from Vietnam’s Plant Protection Department will visit New Zealand to ensure all agreed export protocols are in place.

“We are arranging that but, with the export protocol agreed, growers can begin to apply for import permits from Vietnam now,” says Irvine.

MAS worked with MPI, on behalf of Potatoes NZ, throughout the lengthy negotiation process from initial market access request to Vietnam, to agreeing to a protocol based on a full pest risk analysis to satisfy all Vietnam’s sanitary and phytosanitary protocols and requirements.

Negotiations are also underway with the aim of ultimately gaining export access for New Zealand potatoes to other markets including Australia and Japan.

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