‘Flag of convenience’ Frozen Chinese Vegetables are “Made in New Zealand”

frozen vegetables

NZ’s reputation for purity is one that it has no compunction selling to Chinese producers

New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of safe, high quality food took another hit today with the revelation that Chinese grown frozen vegetables are being sold under a  “made in New Zealand” label.

An expose by the Australian Broadcasting Company uncovered the allegedly “deceptive practice”

The peak industry body for vegetable growers says “confusing” labels can hide the fact that frozen foods from New Zealand may actually be grown in China, under conditions that would not be acceptable in Australia.

AUSVEG spokesman Hugh Gurney says produce can leave China as a frozen product, then be packaged or modified in New Zealand, and then sent on to Australia under the labelling ‘Made in New Zealand from local and imported ingredients’.

Often this produce from China is actually grown in conditions which would not be permitted here [in Australia], so we feel this is quite a deceptive practice,” he told AM. (ed. deceptive practices taking place in New Zealand, surely not!)

“This would be mainly frozen products like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and carrots. The product would come in a large frozen block that would then be broken down into smaller sections, bagged up into plastic bags, frozen again, and then sent here to Australia.

“It is very confusing for consumers, who feel that they’re getting product from New Zealand which actually may have originated in the fields of China.” … more here

The report doesn’t make it clear what the difference in the growing conditions between New Zealand is,  nor whether there are food safety risks involved. Presumably someone somewhere is testing this food for, for example, pesticide residues, agrichemicals etc. and that it passes all of New Zealand’s strict bio-security controls.

Speaking of biosecurity controls, New Zealand has a mixed track record in that department (Varroa and Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa) incursions, for example) so let’s take nothing for granted here.

The question should be asked : are New Zealanders also consuming overseas produce believing it has been grown in 100% pure New Zealand and what do they think of this revelation?

You may also be interested in

Made in New Zealand, not – the world cup effect, companies fined for Chinese made products being passed off as Kiwi. (August 2010)

Concerns over “Made in New Zealand products”  – Greens MP says there’s actually no requirement that all ingredients come from New Zealand and that’s misleading consumers.  (Aug 2010)

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5 thoughts on “‘Flag of convenience’ Frozen Chinese Vegetables are “Made in New Zealand”

  1. Once you have established that “pure” reputation, then if it’s too expensive to maintain an authentic one (if they ever had it in the first place?), they can still make money off the reputation, if they need money. So they sell it. As long as they can keep information to the contrary from being well-publicised, they can continue to cash in on the “100% Pure” nonsense. They are doing a very good job of preserving the identity, despite pesky truthiness about non-purity leaking out here and there. On sites such as this one and others that don’t have corporate sponsors!

  2. This is a disappointment. I think people should be allowed to choose what country’s produce they buy, and do so with confidence that they are not being misled or under-informed in any way.

    I would be interested to know who specifically was involved in such operations.

  3. We wer recently in Australia, over the holidays, and could not believe the difference in produce. Letuce, in Oz, would last 2-3 days. In NZ, letuce lasts a day and you’ve got to throw out the first three or four layers to get to something that you’d want to eat.
    Produce in NZ sucks. Funny, from a country that prides itself agricultural.

    • Other people have said the same as you. Any suggestions as to why this is happening – for example, is controlled atmosphere packaging not used in NZ? or perhaps Australia uses a higher concentration of bacterial inhibitors in its rinsing waters? Could temperature control of chilled produce in New Zealand not be as good?

      On the broader topic of ‘Made in New Zealand, Not’ we’d like to hear from our readers about other incidents of misleading labelling, with links/references where possible.

      Thanks.

      • Their efforts to keep the produce at good temperatures and rinse/sort it are only minimal. Where I come from, the produce is arranged in refrigerators that are designed to maximise the climate control. They are regularly misted and sorted and checked by employees. I lived almost a decade in New Zealand, and knew some store employees as well. They did not do this in New Zealand. They could not afford to. Why this is the case, in a country with such a decent growing climate, I do not know.

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