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Chinese consumers okay with Fonterra action

GERALD PIDDOCK
Last updated 09:51 17/01/2014

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Chinese consumers have backed Fonterra's handling of its recent recall of fresh cream due to the presence of the E coli bacteria.

Fonterra's recent recall of fresh cream due to the bacteria gained widespread media attention in China, and was viewed by Chinese consumers as a positive response by a highly responsible firm, Dr Henry Chung from Massey University's School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing said.

Chung said the recall received extensive media coverage in China.

"Leading Chinese media, including Xinhua news and Sina - which is associated with Weibo and CCTV - have all reported about the recall," he said.

"A search of Baidu [China's version of Google] brings up 291 news items. This is all for a product that was only supplied in New Zealand."

Chung said it was news at a time when Chinese consumers prepared to spend up large in the lead-up to Chinese New Year.

Chung said he spoke with a group of Chinese consumers about the fresh cream recall and they were pleased to see Fonterra act quickly and voluntarily.

"Most Chinese firms would not do this type of recall unless forced to do so by the Government or consumers," he said.

"This shows Fonterra as a highly responsible firm that takes product safety seriously."

Chung said the process followed by Fonterra over the fresh cream recall in New Zealand demonstrated a willingness to learn from past issues, and identified it as an opportunity to highlight the company's depth of knowledge and experience in food safety to Chinese consumers.

"More could be done to explain those stringent food safety processes in the Chinese market," he said.

"Perhaps an online explanation in Chinese that simplifies the testing process the products go through could help demystify and provide reassurance about the integrity of the process."

He said that New Zealand firms needed to more closely monitor their international markets when domestic incidents like this occurred.

"Opportunities will arise from situations like this to reinforce New Zealand's hard-earned reputation as a high quality food-producing nation, where food safety is paramount," he said.

"This is also something that the New Zealand Government needs to support, so that New Zealand Inc. benefits as a whole."

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- Fairfax Media

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