Protecting New Zealand infant formula brands in China is a daily struggle, highlighted by concern about a company using Maori symbols, says the Food and Grocery Council.

Chief executive Katherine Rich said she would lay a complaint with the Commerce Commission over the Heitiki formula, produced by Kiaora New Zealand International, a registered company directed by Tianxi Shao.

Yesterday, the company's website, which had claimed its product was the "new standard" for parents, had been taken down. Prices for some tinned products were up to $169.

The claim was a surprise to producers such as Fonterra and the Dairy Goat Co-operative, as New Zealand and Australian supermarkets did not sell the product, Ms Rich said.

The council's complaint would focus on potential breaches of the Fair Trading Act in what is an important market for New Zealand companies.

Last year, a Ministry of Economic Development report outlined the future of food exports - skim milk powder earned the country $2.96 a kg, while infant formula was times more valuable at $30.18 a kg before retail margins are built in.

After the San Lu melamine scandal, which killed children, Chinese companies had been quick to take advantage of New Zealand's image for quality food products, Ms Rich said.

There had been cases of Chinese firms trying to create brands and copy products to align themselves with New Zealand's reputation. Some companies had copied New Zealand infant formula, hijacked trade names and replicated websites.

"It's a constant battle for FGC members producing infant formula to protect their brands and reputation in the Chinese market."

She backed Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia's investigations with Consumer Affairs Minister John Boscawen and Health Minister Tony Ryall.

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry director of compliance Geoff Allen said the company was not on MAF's list of registered dairy exporters, a regulatory requirement for export.

If the company was manufacturing here it would have to meet further requirements, he said.