New Zealand prime minister John Key and several members of his cabinet will visit China in the near future to limit fallout from the Fonterra scandal. The New Zealand dairy giant announced this month that tests had found bacteria which can cause botulism in infant formula sold in China.
Key’s visit will follow that of trade minister Tim Groser in a month or so. Foreign minister and possessor of the most Kiwi name ever Murray McCully will visit China next week.
According to Bloomberg:
The value of New Zealand’s dollar fell to a one-month low after Fonterra said on August 3 that a dirty pipe at a processing plant might have tainted whey protein, used in dairy formula, with botulism-causing bacteria. Beijing halted imports of some Fonterra products and Xinhua said buyers were losing faith in New Zealand’s clean image.
“It’s really about what is the damage to New Zealand’s reputation, both for Fonterra and for dairy products, but also for the wider products we sell into the Chinese market and other markets overseas,” Key told Television New Zealand yesterday. “Fonterra is the poster child for New Zealand’s exports, whether we like that or not.”
In 2008, Fonterra’s Chinese partner, Sanlu Group, collapsed after locally made melamine-contaminated milk powder killed and made ill babies, causing an industry-wide scandal.
Fonterra hasn’t had a particularly good year with regards to China. In May, former chairman Henry van der Heyden had to publicly apologise after telling Kiwis never to trust the Chinese.
Now that even foreign baby powder has been found to have health risks, China’s government has launched a campaign to promote breastfeeding in a country that has long eschewed it.
[Image credit: @nznationalparty]