Trade Minister Tim Groser and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy have outlined an initial plan to reassert New Zealand’s reputation in key markets following the reported potential contamination of Fonterra-produced whey protein concentrate.
In a joint statement Groser said he and Guy had been in close contact with the affected primary sector business in recent weeks. All agreed a coordinated, all-of-government response was needed.
“New Zealand’s highest priority is to protect the safety of consumers. The Government will be working in close consultation with affected New Zealand companies to help rebuild trust with their in-market partners and customers.
“We need to restore full market access to those markets where restrictions have been put in place, re-establish confidence in the robustness of our food safety system, and reaffirm the positive image of New Zealand brands.”
A key component of the recovery plan will be an intense programme of targeted visits to key markets by Government Ministers as well as senior officials once essential technical issues are resolved.
“Our response needs to be fine-tuned and targeted to the particular needs of each key market. We already enjoy close relationships with overseas regulators at a technical level but where appropriate, Ministers themselves are prepared to engage to assist resolutions,” says Mr Guy.
“These visits will be complemented by incoming visits of overseas Ministers, regulators and media to demonstrate first-hand the robustness and professionalism of New Zealand’s regulatory framework and production processes.”
A dedicated New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Market Connections Fund of up to $2 million will be established to support companies to contact existing customers and shore-up business relationships impacted by the whey protein concentrate issue.
“This fund is intended to help the smaller companies re-establish their position in China,” says Mr Groser.
“Face-to-face contact will be crucial to both Government and businesses. We can’t allow this incident to halt the growth of our food export industry, particularly our innovative small and medium size companies,” says Mr Guy.
The Government earlier announced plans to place more officials in overseas markets, particularly China. The recovery plan will be developed to take into account lessons learned from various investigations and inquiries.Further details on the NZTE Market Connection can be found here.