Market recovery plan for whey protein incident affected businesses

  • Nathan Guy
  • Tim Groser
Primary Industries Trade

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy today outlined an initial plan to reassert New Zealand’s reputation in key markets following the reported potential contamination of Fonterra-produced whey protein concentrate.

“Minister Guy and I have been in close contact with the affected primary sector business throughout the past weeks. We all agree that a coordinated, all of Government response is needed,” says Mr Groser.

“New Zealand’s highest priority is to protect the safety of consumers. The Government will be working in close consultation with affected New Zealand companies to help rebuild trust with their in-market partners and customers.

“We need to restore full market access to those markets where restrictions have been put in place, re-establish confidence in the robustness of our food safety system, and reaffirm the positive image of New Zealand brands.”

A key component of the recovery plan will be an intense programme of targeted visits to key markets by Government Ministers as well as senior officials once essential technical issues are resolved.

“Our response needs to be fine-tuned and targeted to the particular needs of each key market. We already enjoy close relationships with overseas regulators at a technical level but where appropriate, Ministers themselves are prepared to engage to assist resolutions,” says Mr Guy.

“These visits will be complemented by incoming visits of overseas Ministers, regulators and media to demonstrate first-hand the robustness and professionalism of New Zealand’s regulatory framework and production processes.”

A dedicated New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Market Connections Fund of up to $2 million will also be established to support companies to contact existing customers and shore-up business relationships impacted by the whey protein concentrate issue.

“This fund is intended to help the smaller companies re-establish their position in China,” says Mr Groser.

“Face-to-face contact will be crucial to both Government and businesses. We can’t allow this incident to halt the growth of our food export industry, particularly our innovative small and medium size companies,” says Mr Guy.

The Government earlier announced plans to place more officials in overseas markets, particularly China. The recovery plan will be developed to take into account lessons learned from various investigations and inquiries.

Further details on the NZTE Market Connections Fund can be found online at:

Whey protein concentrate contamination incident: market recovery plan: key action steps

  • Intensify engagement with food safety authorities in a range of overseas markets, including a projected visit to China during September by the Acting Director General of MPI, to roll back restrictive measures and to restore normal trading conditions.
  • Use opportunities for Ministerial engagement to reinforce at high levels the messages conveyed through intensified engagement with food safety authorities.
  • Organise a programme of visits to New Zealand by Ministers, senior regulators and media from key overseas markets focused on improving knowledge of, and confidence in, New Zealand’s food regulatory systems.
  • Utilise existing regular official dialogues, such as those established under the NZ/China FTA, to explain how New Zealand’s regulatory systems work
  • Use forthcoming high level political events, including the East Asia Summit, APEC, and the WTO Ministerial Conference, to pursue dialogue with Ministers representing key markets.
  • Utilise, and potentially add to, cooperation agreements that are in place with key markets, including China.
  • Provide support from New Zealand government agencies offshore to New Zealand exporters to assist them in their meetings with overseas customers and commercial partners.
  • Progress longer-term measures to ensure that New Zealand government agencies and New Zealand’s overseas posts are resourced with staff trained to be able to promote New Zealand’s  reputation as a safe producer of food.
  • Establish a dedicated NZTE Market Connections Fund to support companies with market recovery, similar to the Christchurch Market Connections Fund.