By Fiona Rotherham
Kiwifruit marketer Zespri has put a precautionary hold on 1.7 million trays of kiwifruit potentially affected by an oil leak in the packaging.
The fruit is still within Zespri's distribution system rather than in public hands and is both in New Zealand and one offshore market.
Small deposits of mechanical lubricant have been found on a number of kiwifruit pocket packs which hold the fruit in place in the single-layer trays made by a Chinese manufacturing plant.
The lubricant has only been identified on less than 0.01 percent of pocket packs at this stage.
The kiwifruit marketer said the lubricant deposits are believed to be due to a small leak from a grease line in the plant, the company said.
It has commissioned testing to confirm the lubricant's exact composition and once those results are received it will decide what to do with the kiwifruit.
Zespri said it is ensuring no product in the potentially affected packaging reaches the marketplace and has suspended the supply and use of pocket packs from that plant.
It also sources pocket packs from other manufacturers in Chile and New Zealand and is working with those suppliers to ensure sufficient supply of packaging materials for the season.
While there may be some delay to customer deliveries, Zespri said it doesn't expect this to have a material impact on the season which has just started.
The amount of affected kiwifruit represents around 1 percent of its total forecast volume for the 2016 season which has just started, it said.