1080 threat should not harm trade

By: Lincoln University

Lincoln University experts say the blackmail threat to lace baby formula with 1080 unless the use of the poison is stopped will not have long-term effects on New Zealand agricultural exports.

However, continuously emerging food safety issues could cause concerns.

Agribusiness and Food Marketing programme director Nic Lees does not see the threat as having a significant long term effect on either dairy exports or the New Zealand brand.

"Firstly because it is only a threat of contamination and secondly because the majority of New Zealand food exports get further processed or repackaged or blended so for many consumers the New Zealand country of origin is not obvious," he says.

"Because we are basically an ingredients supplier to international food manufacturers. They are our main customers. These industrial buyers have a good understanding of the New Zealand supply chain integrity and have been communicated to regarding the increased security and testing."

Mr Lees says wine, kiwifruit and apples are the exception to this, however.

There are also some New Zealand infant formula brands that do trade off the New Zealand image but the majority is sold as milk powder.

He says this is the reason why last year’s botulism scare did not have much of an effect on New Zealand dairy milk powder prices.

Farm Management and Agribusiness lecturer Bruce Greig agrees: "I don’t think this threat of poisoning some of New Zealand’s export and domestic products will have any long term effect on dairy exports.

"New Zealand has managed numerous biosecurity risks over the years with robust regulation and monitoring. The same is true of our food safety."

He says if anything this threat will increase vigilance by exporters which may increase New Zealand’s reputation for food safety.

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