It emerged earlier this year that a number of Chinese firms have been marketing their infant formula products as ‘Made in New Zealand’. According to reports from New Zealand, one firm even used a picture of the country’s Prime Minister John Key to promote its infant formula product.
Others have also adopted the New Zealand Fern Mark logo – a New Zealand government commercial trademark.
There are strict guidelines of the use of the New Zealand Fern Mark logo and only certain government agencies and New Zealand companies are licensed to use it.
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), which works to improve the international competitiveness and profitability of New Zealand-based businesses, revealed that the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has taken action in an effort to resolve the issue.
An NZTE spokesperson told DairyReporter.com that preventing the unauthorised use of the New Zealand Fern Mark logo is essential to protect the reputation of New Zealand food exports.
NZ brand and reputation
“In July, New Zealand industry representatives attending the Shanghai Mother and Baby Expo were made aware of a high number of claims of New Zealand origin and endorsements around infant formula products being marketed at the Expo,” said the NZTE spokesperson.
“The image and safety of New Zealand food exports is an important part of the New Zealand brand and reputation, which we must protect.”
According to the NZTE spokesperson, the logo has been adopted in order to meet increasing demand in the country for ‘safe’ infant formula products.
Earlier this year, a survey found discovered that Chinese consumers were turning to imported dairy products – including infant formula – as their confidence in the safety of domestically manufactured food brands continued to decline in the wake of back-to-back scandals.
In recent months, thousands of units of Chinese-manufactured infant formula products have been pulled from shelves in the country after concerns were raised about levels of mercury, aflatoxins and sanitation chemicals.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has engaged with the appropriate officials in China to help address and resolve concerns over any misleading representation of New Zealand origin finished products and unauthorised use of names and logos,” the NZTE spokesperson added.
“New Zealand officials across a number of agencies are advancing work on broader brand development and protection issues to support New Zealand industry.”