Steps to exporting fresh fruit
Plant health, food safety, labelling, and quality grade requirements differ widely from country to country, so you need to comply with the requirements of your destination country. Some fresh produce has to meet extra requirements. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.
Follow the steps
What types of produce are classified as fresh?
Fruit products are 'fresh' if they are unprocessed. This includes fruit that has been washed before packing.
Fresh fruit doesn't include fruit that has been processed by heating (blanched, steamed, dried), preserving, or blast freezing (frozen) before packing.
To export fresh fruit successfully you need to know about:
- New Zealand's food safety requirements (which you must meet first)
- phytosanitary, food safety, quality grade, and labelling requirements for your destination country
- complying with extra requirements for specific commodities, where necessary
- using MPI-authorised Independent Verification Agencies (IVAs) or MPI-approved service providers or facilities for phytosanitary activities
- the export requirements set by the industry sector.
You may have to meet other requirements as well. These requirements might be commercial, or set by other government agencies like the New Zealand Customs Service. It will also pay to check with your importing agent in the destination country to make sure you haven't overlooked any requirements.
Some products have extra phytosanitary requirements
Apples, pears, nashi, summerfruit (stonefruit), and loose tomatoes exported to specific destination countries have extra requirements or assurance processes to follow. If you plan to export these products, check what else you may need to do.
Information for organic exporters
If you're exporting organic fruit, you need to know about the Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP). This programme is designed to facilitate the exporting of organic products to specific countries.
Each country has different phytosanitary (plant health) requirements. For most countries, you can find out the requirements by reading the Importing Countries Phytosanitary Requirements (ICPR).
If your export destination has an ICPR, you need to comply with the requirements and contact an MPI-authorised Independent Verification Agency (IVA) for help. There may be other requirements (like documentation, tests, or treatments) the IVA will be able to advise you about. Fees may apply.
When there is no ICPR
For countries that don't have an ICPR, you may need an import permit. Ask your importer or agent in your destination country to check their country's requirements.
You can read more about phytosanitary certificates issued when there's no ICPR in Section 3.3.2 of the MPI Certification Standard: Assurance System Framework.
Check New Zealand's food safety requirements
All food produced in New Zealand for sale in New Zealand or for export must comply with the New Zealand Food Act, the joint Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, and, for pesticide residues, the New Zealand Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs). Make sure you're familiar with these requirements.
There may also be requirements around heavy metals and microbiological contaminants – check the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to find out.
- Find out more about the Food Act 2014
- Check the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code
- Read about the NZ Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) standards
Check the destination country's food safety requirements
Some destination countries have different or additional food safety standards or requirements, and it's your responsibility to comply with them. They may include food safety, pesticide residues, micro-organisms, and contaminants or 'foreign bodies'.
Check the destination country's food safety criteria by contacting their official food regulator, or ask your import agent.
Check the pesticide maximum residue levels (MRLs)
Most countries have MRLs for pesticides, to safeguard consumer health and promote good agricultural practice (GAP) in the use of insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and other agricultural compounds.
Sometimes the MRLs set by your destination country will be more stringent than New Zealand's. The country you're exporting to may carry out border testing to ensure your consignment meets their MRLs.
The MRLs for many countries are held in a searchable database maintained by MPI. You can search by country, crop, or pesticide. (Note that MPI cannot guarantee the accuracy of this database.) You should also check the relevant destination country's legislation before exporting your products.
Find out more
Undertake pesticide residue testing, if required
Your industry group may have an export programme for your product, which may specify rules for pesticide use and residue testing. Contact your industry group for more information.
If residue testing is required, MPI has recognised several laboratories that do residue analysis using specified test methods.
Check assurance programme criteria
For some food export products to some destination countries, New Zealand has assurance agreements for quality grade. Find out whether these apply to your export product.
Quality grade programme for apples, pears, and kiwifruit
MPI operates a voluntary Grade Official Assurance Programme for apples, pears, and kiwifruit, to help exports to Canada, the United States (USA), and the European Union (EU).
How the programme helps
If you don't have an MPI grade certificate, your export consignment may need an inspection at the border for the EU, Canada, and the USA. New Zealand exporters participating in this programme have experienced significantly faster border clearance when they have an MPI grade certificate.
How to participate in the programme
To be in the programme you must meet the requirements of both the Official Grade Assurance Standard and the Official Assurance Programme – Grade.
- Download the Official Grade Assurance Standard March 2010
- Download the MPI 2013 Official Assurance Programme – Grade [PDF, 318 KB]
If you have questions about the programme, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Check the industry group's requirements
Industry groups sometimes set other requirements. You may be able to find contact details for your product on the Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) or Horticulture New Zealand websites, or contact them for more information.
Check HEA's requirements if you are exporting any of these products:
- kiwifruit to Australia
- summerfruit (apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums)
Check the destination country's labelling and packaging requirements
There may be food, packaging, or other labelling requirements for your produce. Ask your importer or agent about any requirements your produce needs to meet.
Check wood packaging requirements
If you use wood packaging other than paper for your export product, check that your wood packaging meets the phytosanitary requirements of the destination country. Most countries require you to treat wood packaging to make sure it's free of pests and diseases.
Request a phytosanitary certificate, if required
Phytosanitary certificates are issued only when MPI determines that your products meet all the importing country's phytosanitary requirements.
If you need a phytosanitary certificate, request it through MPI's online phytosanitary certification system – ePhyto.
You have to register before you can use ePhyto. If you don't want to register yourself, ask an independent verification agency (IVA) about other options.
You may need to include the phytosanitary certificate in the documents you give to your freight or shipping company.
You're ready to export when you have all of the necessary documentation, like a phytosanitary or grade assurance certificate, and have met all of the requirements of your destination country.
Who to contact
MPI uses authorised Independent Verification Agencies (IVAs) to provide information for exporters, including destination country requirements, ePhyto requests and verification, phytosanitary inspection, and pest surveys.
If you have questions about phytosanitary requirements, contact an IVA.
For other enquiries, email email@example.com.
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