A fresh salmon shipment from major New Zealand exporter Sanford has made it across the Chinese border after earlier clearance problems feared to be linked to diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

Sanford chief customer officer Andre Gargiulo said in response to a Herald inquiry: "We sent a shipment of fresh salmon to China last week. It cleared customs over the weekend, which is very pleasing."

The company, New Zealand's largest seafood business, declined to elaborate.

Sanford earlier this month revealed it had been having issues getting fresh salmon exports to China cleared through Chinese ports.


Coming on the heels of a perceived deteriorating government-to-government relationship between New Zealand and its biggest food export customer, there were fears China was retaliating where it hurts this country most - through trade red-tape.

Sanford did not attribute its earlier administrative issues getting shipments into China cleared, but Gargiulo said at the time no reason had been given by China for the problems which had affected several shipments of fresh salmon since the end of January.

China is New Zealand's biggest export seafood market, last year returning $500m.

Seafood New Zealand chief executive Tim Pankhurst said he was not aware of any current issues in the sector with China trade.

However, concerns persist among some exporters.

New Zealand-registered meat export company NZ Natural Beef and Lamb which has Chinese shareholders and buys meat from major New Zealand processors to ship to China, said five refrigerated containers had been held at the Chinese border since the beginning of January.

A director, who declined to have his full name reported, said no reason for the delay had been offered by Chinese authorities and his company had never had an access problem before.

Each container of meat was valued at about US$120,000 ($174,000), he said.

Major New Zealand meat processors approached by the Herald said they had not had any issues exporting to China.