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CMA: Importing Means Buyer Beware

Canterbury Manufacturers’ Association

21 August 2006

Importing Means Buyer Beware.

The Canterbury Manufacturers’ Association says that the failure to detect traces of pesticides on recent shipments of imported food items from China further illustrates the need for country of origin labelling to be applied to imported goods of all descriptions, whether they are food, agricultural or manufacturing.

Chief Executive John Walley says that the example of the contaminated food items is a reminder to all sectors of the New Zealand economy of the potential problems that can occur when a company’s supply chains includes sourcing material or products from low cost countries where things that might be taken for granted in the developed world do not always apply.

We should never forget low cost comes with a higher risk, and that low costs and low tariffs should not be confused with no requirement to check.

“This is an issue of safety and quality to the consumer, whether they are an individual purchasing the product from a retail outlet or a company importing components into the New Zealand market”, says Mr. Walley. “Country of origin labelling and effective quality control systems are required to not only ensure peoples health but to also ensure that they are aware of where their product was made and its reliability. I personally would knowingly buy food sourced in China and I want labelling enforced to give me that choice. “

Mr. Walley says that the failure to apply quality control standards to imports while local producers and manufacturers are bound by compliance regulations such as Hazardous Substances and Noxious Organisms is a fundamental flaw in the system and the Government needs to provide a level playing field for local firms and more information for consumers.

“It has become a case of buyer beware” says Mr. Walley. “I recently spoke with one manufacturer who lost a customer to a competitor based in China who undercut the local firm on price. However, the competitor supplied a product made of unspecified material and each shipment into New Zealand was different from the last. This sort of event can quickly make low prices the highest cost.”

Without enforced standards robustly applied to imports, competition is one sided and particularly to food safety, the consumer is taken for a ride says Mr. Walley.

“The merit of Buy Kiwi Made is that in seeking to support companies to manufacture and produce locally but supports the quality in supply chains that we take for granted.”

ENDS

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