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Chinese vegetable 'Made in NZ' claim rubbished

MICHAEL FIELD AND NICOLE PRYOR
Last updated 19:12 19/02/2013

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‘‘Protectionist scare-mongering’’ is behind a claim that frozen Chinese vegetables are being sold as ‘‘Made in New Zealand" in Australia, Horticulture New Zealand says.

Hugh Gurney, spokesman from Australian vegetable industry group AUSVEG, today told Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s AM programme produce could leave China as a frozen product, be packaged or modified in New Zealand, and then sent on to Australia under the labelling “Made in New Zealand from local and imported ingredients”.

"Often this produce from China is actually grown in conditions which would not be permitted here, so we feel this is quite a deceptive practice," he told AM.

"This would be mainly frozen products like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and carrots."

But a spokesperson from Horticulture New Zealand said the claims are “ridiculous”.

“This is blatant protectionist scare-mongering. It is just another example of Australian sour grapes,” said chief executive Peter Silcock.

“Australian growers need to stop complaining about competition and start getting better at what they do.”

Silcock said most of the products leaving New Zealand had been grown here, but it was also “entirely legal” for Chinese imports to be exported from New Zealand.

“We could walk through the aisles of any Australian supermarket and find dozens of examples of products which have this labelling, which tells you nothing about the origin of the product,” he said.

“Consumers have to realise there is a huge difference between ‘Made in’ and ‘Product of’.”

He said if consumers did not like the law, they should get their government to change it.

Gurney told Fairfax Media he did not know of any companies in New Zealand that had simply packaged vegetables from China and claimed they were locally grown.

"We aren’t saying it happens all the time, but we are saying it is possible that a loophole does exist, and it can filter down to Australian supermarkets."

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