Zespri denies kiwifruit seize claims
Zespri senior communications advisor David Courtney, told www.freshfruitportal.com the story was misreported by the New Zealand press following a story from Chinese media organization CCTV.
"It’s been misreported by the New Zealand media. With the CCTV story’s English translation it says 30,000 tons were seized, but then below it says there were unpaid duties on 30,000 (metric) tons of kiwifruit since 2007," he says.
"That’s part of the industry. The import agent handles imports for a number of products and exporters. In the investigation, whether we’re the only one, I can’t say.
"To be honest, we’re a witness in this, we don’t have all the details. We don’t have a set of facts that have come to us from customs to say, ‘this is what’s happened and this is what we’re looking at’. We simply have to wait for the enquiry to take its course and not get ahead of them in terms of what we’re saying and what’s happening."
The CCTV story does not specifically mention Zespri but it does show a video of Zespri kiwifruit, while mentioning the company concerned evaded US$9.4 million in taxes since 2007.
"This makes it the single largest fruit import smuggling case with the largest value involved in China. At present the principal of the company has been arrested, and the case is still under investigation," CCTV reported.
Courtney says 30,000MT is close to what the company expects to ship to China in total this season.
"We expect to sell around 10 m trays there this season, which will be an increase on last year. Sales are going well.
"Zespri's 2011 selling season to China remains on track and we will continue to monitor the situation closely for any adverse impact as a result of the arrest.
"There is an important festival coming up in China - the Moon Festival - which we expect to bring an increase in demand."