New Zealand marketer says option to check and repack all 5,000 pallets would not guarantee food safety and could damage its brand reputation

Zespri SunGold kiwifruit

Zespri SunGold kiwifruit

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri has confirmed that more than one million trays of its New Zealand-grown fruit will be destroyed, after mice were found on the vessel that carried its first new-season consignment to Europe.

The total value of the 5,000 pallets, plus the associated disposal cost, amounts to around NZ$34m (€19.1m), as reported in the Otago Daily Times.

Chief operating officer Jason Te Brake told the newspaper: “It’s become clear that we can’t fully mitigate the potential food safety and reputational risk to the brand with enough certainty to release any fruit.”

To check and repack all of the fruit would be a “substantial and complex” exercise, he added. “Even then, we could not be sufficiently confident we could remove the risk associated with the presence of rodents. Our customers have also been clear they don’t want the fruit because of the potential risks associated with it.”