$2m milk powder shipment stopped at Chinese border — Barnett

MPI failed to keep small exporters in the loop, NZ Infant Formula Exporters Association chairman says.

LATESTUp to $30m of formula sent to China without 1080 certification

A milk powder shipment worth between $1.5 million and $2 million has been stopped at the Chinese border, NZ Infant Formula Exporters Association chairman Michael Barnett says.

The association represents smaller exporters. Mr Barnett won't name the company involved, but says its shipment has been held up at a Shanghai port until it receives new 1080-free certification under a scheme introduced by the Chinese government on Tuesday, or it passes a 1080 test.

The Ministry for Primary Industries says it is willing to assist any exporters facing problems but is not immediately aware of the case Mr Barnett describes.

Mr Barnett says the ministry has misread the situation and failed to keep small exporters in the loop as it discussed the 1080 scare with Fonterra and other big guns.

"Yesterday we were told that new certification for exports is going to be required as of yesterday. We know [MPI has been] getting ready for this for the past couple of months and I'm asking how come the small guys have been able to keep on exporting and haven't been told the rules are going to change and haven't been included in the conversations that enable them to effect business in China efficiently. They should have been. In my opinion, it's a mis-reading of the situation by MPI," he says.

Mr Barnett, who named the company involved, off the record, says while our government reassured the Chinese government before going public with the 1080 scare, "It's about the Chinese distributors getting nervous. If they don't think they can get product to market, they won't take it."

NBR is seeking comment from MPI. At a press conference this morning, Ministry for Primary Industries deputy director-general Scott Gallacher said MPI is only aware of one small exporter that  be experiencing problems with exports in China. The ministry was follownig that up.

Mr Barnett's group is already offside with the government over the 1080 scare.

NZ Infant Formula Exporters Association chief administrative officer Chris Claridge told NBR that Monday's public announcements by industry and Prime Minister John Key  – in tandem with MPI – went against industry advice from the food and dairy industries and now sets a precedent for fuelling publicity for future “extortion attempts.”

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says none of the 80 markets who buy infant milk formula from New Zealand have said they will stop imports in the wake of the poisoning threat.

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