Hong Kong trade mission targets NZ food, beverage

JOSH MARTIN
Last updated 05:00 12/03/2014

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The New Zealand food and beverage industry has received a boost, with visiting Hong Kong trade development councillor Fred Lam keen to partner importers from the city with New Zealand producers.

Lam said last year's Fonterra botulism scare did little to dent Hong Kong and Chinese consumer demand for Kiwi products, but increased demand for safe food supplies.

"New Zealand still has a very good image. That incident obviously hurt, but won't do too much damage to Hong Kong sales," Lam said.

Lam, who heads the trade mission along with nearly 20 Hong Kong food and beverage companies, said New Zealand was still under-represented on supermarket shelves and in restaurants, despite the country's enviable image.

"Perhaps it's due to the many small and medium enterprises that make up the New Zealand food and beverage industry, so these missions are important because they can provide a win-win for both markets," he said.

Hong Kong had long been used as an entry point and testing ground into the lucrative Chinese consumer market, although there were stark differences between them.

Hong Kong, which imports 96 per cent of all food and beverages, had shown a steady increase in demand for organic and sustainable products, Lam said.

Importer Simon Wong said that, when he began expanding his business into organic produce 15 years ago, Hong Kong only had 5000 consumers. That had grown to nearly 500,000 last year, and they would pay for quality.

"New Zealand producers put a lot of effort into creating high-quality, safe products and they have very marketable stories to tell Hong Kong consumers," Wong said.

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- BusinessDay

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