New Zealand wines face new challenges in China

By Jim Boyce | The New Zealand Herald reports that the country’s wines will soon face a more difficult route to China’s market:

Chinese regulations that caused upheaval in New Zealand’s infant formula industry two years ago are set to be extended to honey and wine exporters.

The Ministry for Primary Industries yesterday confirmed it was aware of the move, saying the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China (CNCA) would require registration of wineries and honey producers next year.

It’s not just New Zealand affected, said an MPI spokesperson, as “the rules will apply to all countries exporting wine and honey to China.” (Honey is a key trade product for New Zealand. It was the top exporter to China at USD24 million during the first half of the year, more than its next 20 competitors combined.)

The Herald, citing online regulatory news source Chemlinked, reported that the “CNCA was training officials to conduct on-site audits of bee farms, honey processing facilities and wineries.”

Only a tiny fraction of New Zealand’s wine is sent to China but rapid market growth and an advantageous free trade deal have buoyed the hopes of producers for a far bigger presence.

It’s not the only agricultural product at issue between New Zealand and China at the moment. China border officials found fungus in two containers of New Zealand kiwi fruit arriving in Tianjin.

According to a spokesperson at kiwi exporter Zespri, “no other countries had demanded a halt to shipments because of the fungus, which was first identified on kiwifruit in 1982.”

Not surprisingly, speculation has abounded about the timing. Some think it might be linked to concerns by New Zealand and others about cheap Chinese steel exports. One source said it might be linked to the Kiwifruit Marketing Board recently deciding against a project to market its fruit on Hainan.

In any case, the wine regulations appear to have been planned ahead of those issues. Reports the Herald: “New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said the industry group had been aware for some time of CNCA’s registration plans.”

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