Local vegetable growers have rubbished as “ridiculous” claims by their Australian equivalents that New Zealand food manufacturers are bombarding their country with sub-standard frozen veges.
Horticulture New Zealand believes the comments are designed to scare Australian customers into buying locally grown product.
“This is blatant protectionist scare-mongering. It is just another example of Australian sour grapes,” HortNZ chief executive Peter Silcock says.
“Last week it was beetroot, this week it is frozen vegetables. Australian growers need to stop complaining about competition and start getting better at what they do.”
The vast bulk of frozen vegetable product that goes from New Zealand to Australia is grown in New Zealand.
“It is also entirely legal for frozen products from China, or any other country, to be imported into New Zealand or Australia, processed and then exported elsewhere.
“There is no difference at all between manufactured food products with ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients’ on the label or ‘Made in New Zealand from local and imported ingredients.’”
The origin of either could be anywhere, Mr Silcock says.
“We could walk through the aisles of any Australian supermarket and find dozens of examples of products that have this labelling, which tells you nothing about the origin of the product.”
Consumers have to realise there is a huge difference between “Made in” and “Product of,” he says, adding that HortNZ has long advocated tougher country of origin labelling laws.