Infant formula agency accused Government of going easy on China

The Government is being accused of going easy on Chinese authorities when making trade deals for the infant formula industry, with new rules blamed for dozens of Kiwi brands made by small businesses going down the drain.

It is claimed new export rules have seen dozens of Kiwi brands fold. Source: 1 NEWS

One of these was KiwiMilk Nutrition, which had to stop production after selling formula for 18 months because trade became so tough.

"Rules have constantly kept changing in China, and getting advice from our Government, especially MPI and Trade and Enterprise, has been absolutely hopeless," Kiwimilk chief executive Marco Marinkovich said.

ONE News has learned dozens of small business infant formula brands have folded since new rules for trade with China came into force for all trading partners after a number of food health concerns, including the Fonterra botulism scare.

There were 200 brands - and now there are just 20.

"The Chinese have said that they're only going to work with accredited packers, they've wanted to do the accreditation," Michael Barnett of the Infant Formula Exporters Association said.

"MPI have allowed them to control that process, so we've ended up with a small group of privileged exporters."

He says many of those exporters are Chinese-owned companies based in New Zealand.

Scott Gallacher, Deputy Director General Ministry for Primary Industries says they have "worked really hard" to make sure New Zealand's best interests were being reflected "in the context of any decision China made".

Prime Minister John Key says China decided there were too many products on its shelves.

"I'd like to think I've got some power, but I don't think I've got enough power to tell the Chinese what to do."