Consultation on proposed updates runs until 20 February

MPI looks at upping food safety fees

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

The proposals amount to an increase of $12.8m across sectors
The proposals amount to an increase of $12.8m across sectors

Related tags Food safety New zealand Industry

Feedback on changes to fees around food safety and biosecurity, including some increases, is wanted by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

A review by the agency is looking at the amount it charges primary industries for services and activities as part of New Zealand’s biosecurity and food safety systems.

It is proposing to change over 250 fees, charges and levies and amounts to an increase of $12.8m across the food and biosecurity systems sectors.

The consultation is the first review of fees to support the biosecurity system since MPI Industries was formed in 2011 and is the first review of food safety fees since 2008.

Biosecurity and food safety system increase

The biosecurity system prevents or manages risks from harmful organisms, like pests and diseases.

The food safety system ensures the safety of consumers in the country and abroad from New Zealand produced food.

MPI has proposed an increase recovered from industry for biosecurity by $6m to $36.4m and a rise in the amount from industry for food safety by $6.8m to $62.1m.

Dan Bolger, MPI’s deputy director-general, office of the director-general, said biosecurity and food safety are critical to the operation and viability of New Zealand’s primary industries.

“Without these systems, New Zealand’s $38.3bn primary sector exports would never get past importing countries’ borders and New Zealand’s primary industries would be exposed to a much greater risk of potentially devastating pests and diseases​,” he said.

MPI said since the last review demand for services has increased, driven by increasing imports and exports and there are more food businesses.

Bolger said the different systems for recovering costs from industry were not developed at the same time.

“Over time this has led to potential inequities in current charges. The proposals are designed to address these inequities and ensure all industry – large and small – is treated fairly.

“We need to strike the right balance between making sure that costs are fair, and making sure the Ministry is getting the right amount of money to continue doing the job for industry and New Zealand.”

Wine industry opposition

The move has not been welcomed by everyone with New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) said it was strongly opposing a proposal to recover $2.9m per year from the wine industry to meet costs of its wine regulatory programme.

Steve Green, chair of New Zealand Winegrowers, said wineries currently pay just over $200m each year in excise to the government. 

“Payments have increased by $70m, or more than 60%, in the past decade. From our perspective requiring the industry to pay an additional $2.9m to MPI every year is manifestly unjustifiable”.

Exports of wine have grown at a compound rate of over 13% per annum from $435m in 2005 to $1.33bn in 2014 and are expected to reach $2bn in 2020.

Green said it would have thought MPI would have been looking at how it supports the wine industry’s growth, rather than imposing more costs on the sector.

“We already pay more than $200m to the government each year and as far as we are concerned that is enough.” ​ 

The public consultation on the proposed updates runs until 20 February and can be found here​.

Related topics Policy Oceania Food safety Beverages

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