Bruce Pulman. Photo NZ Herald
At $23 for a two-litre bottle of milk, the Shanghai
supermarket price of Oravida's prize export is well beyond what
any Kiwi could expect to pay at the local dairy.
But the high-price reflects a more complicated supply chain -
and the degree to which the high-quality product is sought
after in China.
It's just one of a string of products which are or will be
sold into China by Oravida, the company to which Cabinet
minister Judith Collins has such close personal connections
is also the embodiment of how New Zealand's Free Trade
Agreement is meant to work.
The popularity is such that the company is even considering
getting its own plane.
For Bruce Pulman, owner of Oravida's milk producer Green
Valley Dairies, it's a wondrous happening.
"I want to add value to my milk by exporting. That's been my
dream for years."
His general manager Corrie den Haring speaks highly of the
relationship with "honourable" Oravida.
The company sells milk to Oravida at the same rate it would
domestically, leaving its partner to carry the cost involved
with flying it to China.
The milk leaves the factory on Monday mornings for Auckland
International Airport. "It's in Shanghai on Tuesday night -
as quickly as I can get milk into Wellington, I can get it
And it's popular, he said. An export document on Oravida's
Chinese-language version of its website shows 1224 bottles
(2.5 tons) flown in February 2013.
Fresh local milk in Shanghai sells for $2 to $3 a litre. The
popularity is such that now "it wouldn't be unusual to have a
five ton shipment".
"We're not sure the airlines can keep up. I'm serious - the
next discussion we're having is to charter aircraft to
freight product to China."
Oravida's corporate network is a spiderweb of companies which
end in a lawyer's trust. The names of the companies - and the
company website - show an interest in exporting products such
as beef and lamb, fruit, honey (it owns 5 per cent of
Comvita), milk, seafood and swamp kauri. Currently, its
exports are restricted to milk and Sanford's seafood -
specifically salmon and scampi.
National Party president Peter Goodfellow is among the
National Party people featured on Oravida's website.
He is a large shareholder in Sanfords, which supplies salmon
and scampi to the company for export. The scampi sells for
$180 for 2kg in Shanghai.
He pointed to the FTA when talking about Oravida. "What
National has done is to attempt to use that free-trade
agreement to really drive jobs creation and exports and
imports from China."
Trade Minister Tim Groser is the most explicable of the many
National Party worthies who have appeared at Oravida's
events. One event at which Oravida's scampi was featured was
a seafood and wine function in Shanghai in 2011. He told the
audience: "If you are looking for the cheapest product, New
Zealand is not the place. But if you are looking for products
that offer best value for money, you will find such products
everywhere in New Zealand."
Mr Groser told the Herald he was speaking to a range of
exporters and their Chinese clients and distributors. "New
Zealand is renowned for producing high-quality, safe and
sustainable food and beverage products."