Attempts by “inexperienced” New Zealand-based companies to cash in on Chinese consumer demand for Kiwi infant nutrition products is putting the industry’s export reputation at risk, the Infant Nutrition Council (INC) has warned.
The INC, which represents manufacturers and marketers of infant nutrition products in Australia and New Zealand, has called on the industry and the New Zealand government to work together to “guard” the sector’s reputation.
The Council, which counts Nestlé, Fonterra, and Abbott Nutrition among its members, issued its call in response to concerns from China about the rapidly increasing number of New Zealand-made infant nutrition brands that are available in the country.
“Recent media reports have highlighted that companies that lack basic supply chain integrity are threatening New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of the highest quality infant formula, and the industry and government must work together to guard that reputation,” said INC CEO, Jan Carey.
The number of New Zealand-made infant nutrition brands available in China is believed to exceed 200.
According to reports from New Zealand, the firms behind most of these brands do not actually manufacture infant formula. Instead their products are produced at contract manufacturing plants in New Zealand. While these plants are approved and regulated by the government, the companies behind some of these brands are not.
To provide some additional protection, the INC has called for all New Zealand-based companies involved in the marketing of infant formula to comply with an agreed set of industry standards.
“The New Zealand industry needs a united approach and any company that seeks to market infant formula brands should be required to comply with agreed industry standards such as the INC codes.”
“Whether infant formula is marketed in New Zealand or overseas, we must do everything to ensure short-term opportunism by some individuals or companies does not damage the trust among international consumers that New Zealand produces safe, healthy, and sustainably produced food,” she said.