Kiwifruit marketer Zespri said it had "temporarily deferred" exports to China - its biggest market by volume - until new checking protocols are in place.

A spokeswoman for Zespri said she expected sales to be deferred for about a week.

The move follows a "warning notification" from China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), issue last Friday.

The notice specified more stringent inspection and quarantine processes on New Zealand kiwifruit entering China ports and strengthened pre-shipping processes to prevent further incidences of this fungus arriving in China.


"We are working with New Zealand kiwifruit suppliers and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to develop additional pre-shipping measures in response to AQSIQ's risk notification issued after the find of the fungus Neofabraea actinidiae through routine testing on four containers of fruit which arrived at Tianjin Port on June 8," Zespri said in a statement.

"These protocols will be implemented after approval from MPI which we hope to have in the next few days, at which point we will resume exports to China for the 2016 season," it said.

Zespri has already sold about 11 million trays of kiwifruit to China this season. It had forecast sales of another 8 million trays but around 1 million trays of was now being reallocated to other markets.

A number of additional pallets have also been placed on hold in China this week due to this issue, which were not subject to the new checking protocols. Sales of kiwifruit which have cleared the customs process in China continue as normal and our sales season continues positively in China, on track to exceed last year's volume. "However there is an increased risk of further finds of neofabraea actinidiae from fruit still arriving in the market which has not been subject to the new protocols," Zespri said.

Zespri said indications were that AQSIQ was treating the matter as a normal market access issue.

There are no records of neofabraea actinidiae on Chinese kiwifruit and authorities are taking reasonable measures to mitigate risk this may pose to the Chinese kiwifruit industry, it said.

"We continue to work with Chinese officials and New Zealand government to mitigate any potential risk to China, along with any market access impact to New Zealand," Zespri said.
Early this week, Zespri and the Government batted away suggestions that politics has played any role in increased scrutiny of New Zealand kiwifruit entering China.

The warning notification from AQSIQ followed talk that Beijing could be preparing reprisals against Kiwi primary industry exporters in response to a possible investigation by local officials into alleged Chinese steel dumping.