China has placed an import ban on kiwi berries as part of a biosecurity risk assessment process, the Ministry for Primary Industries says.

The fruit are similar in size to grapes but resemble kiwifruit and have a smooth, edible skin.

An MPI spokesman said China had placed a temporary suspension on imports of kiwi berries.

"This is because China intends to conduct a risk assessment of kiwi berries for biosecurity purposes," he said.

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"MPI is working with Chinese authorities on resuming trade in kiwi berries as quickly as possible."

New Zealand has exported around 99 tonnes of kiwi berries to China since 2011, according to MPI.

The spokesman said the ban did not affect Chinese imports of gold or green kiwifruit.

According to Fresh Fruit Portal website, China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) previously allowed imports of the fruit, known as Actinidia arguta, due to its similarity to kiwifruit (Actinidia chinensis).

But a change of regulations had established kiwi berries as a separate species, meaning exporting countries would need to undertake new market access negotiations, the website reported.

In addition to New Zealand, the fruit are also grown in Chile, Italy and France.