Vanuatu lime exports to NZ paused

Vanuatu's lime exports to New Zealand have been temporarily stopped over biosecurity issues.

The first shipment in an export trial of Vanuatu's Tahitian limes arrived in New Zealand in February.

Biosecurity New Zealand said Vanuatu officials had agreed to stop issuing export certificates for the limes until the issues were resolved.

Without identifying the issues, the agency said it was "working closely with local officials to identify and address any gaps in Vanuatu's certification system".

Vanuatu Plant Biosecurity Officer Touasi Tiwok told the Daily Post the temporary stop was an opportunity to discuss "risks" to New Zealand.

"What New Zealand has asked us to do is review our pathway system, starting from the production level to the market," she said.

"We have asked farmers to wait for the time being until we reach an agreement for exports to resume."

The high season for lime growers in Vanuatu, between August and February, corresponds with the off-season in New Zealand.

During this period, limes often disappear entirely from supermarket shelves in New Zealand, or their price skyrockets.

Vanuatu's Dynamic Supply company identified this export opportunity and facilitated the export trial.

In partnership with the Vanuatu departments of Agriculture and Biosecurity, Dynamic found farms that had the capacity to produce export quality limes.

The first shipment in February of just under 200kg was reportedly "snapped up", with the majority going to a company that caters to Auckland's film and television industry.

Dynamic's Jennifer Bowtell said she was confident issues identified in the export trials would be sorted out.