Trade and Enterprise NZ is under fire for handing out $350,000 to promote infant formula in China.

Canterbury University sociologist Dr David Small said the Government agency's $2m Market Connections Fund should not be open to formula producers.

The fund was set up to help dairy exporters rebuild their reputations after Fonterra's botulism scare. "I just don't see infant formula exporters as being in the same category, really."

Small said formula was "entrenched" in China; only 28 per cent of Chinese babies under 6 months were breastfed.


NZ Trade and Enterprise's David Downs said almost half a million dollars had been allocated to 39 companies from the Market Connections Fund; $350,000 of it to 27 infant formula export companies.

Chris Claridge, managing director of Carrickmore Nutrition and chief administrative officer of the NZ Infant Formula Exporters Association, said he respected Small's right to voice his opinion. Association chairman Michael Barnett is overseas and could not be reached for comment.