Steps to exporting fresh vegetables
Plant health, food safety, labelling, and quality grade requirements differ widely from country to country, so you need to comply with the requirements of your destination country. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.
Follow the steps
What types of produce are classified as fresh?
Vegetable products are 'fresh' if they're unprocessed. This includes vegetables that have been washed before packing, such as loose ready-made salad leaves.
Fresh produce doesn't include vegetables that have been processed by heating (blanched, steamed, dried), preserving, or blast freezing (frozen) before packing.
To export fresh vegetables successfully you need to know about:
- phytosanitary, food safety, quality grade, and labelling requirements for your destination country
- complying with extra requirements for specific commodities, where necessary
- using MPI-authorised Independent Verification Agencies (IVAs), or MPI-approved service providers or facilities for phytosanitary activities
- the export requirements set by the relevant industry sector.
You may have to meet other requirements as well. These requirements might be commercial, or set by other government agencies like the New Zealand Customs Service. It will also pay to check with your importing agent in the destination country to make sure you haven't overlooked any requirements.
Some products have extra phytosanitary requirements
There are extra requirements or assurance processes to follow for potatoes and onions exported to specific destination countries. If you plan to export these products, check what else you may need to do.
|Onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots||Potatoes|
Tomatoes also have extra phytosanitary requirements. Technically, tomatoes are classed as fruit, which is covered elsewhere on this website.
Information for organic exporters
If you're exporting organic vegetables, you need to know about the Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP). This programme is designed to facilitate the export of organic products to specific countries.
Check and comply with phytosanitary requirements
Each country has different phytosanitary (plant health) requirements. For most countries, you can find out the requirements by reading the Importing Countries Phytosanitary Requirements (ICPR).
If your export destination has an ICPR, you need to comply with the requirements and contact an MPI-authorised Independent Verification Agency (IVA) for help. There may be other requirements (like documentation, pre-clearance tests, or treatments) that the IVA will be able to advise you about. Fees may apply.
When there's no ICPR
For countries that don't have an ICPR, you may need an import permit. Ask your importer or agent in your destination country to check their country's requirements.
You can read more about phytosanitary certificates issued when there's no ICPR in Section 3.3.2 of the MPI Certification Standard: Assurance System Framework.
Check New Zealand's food safety requirements
All food produced in New Zealand for sale in New Zealand or export overseas must comply with the New Zealand Food Act, the joint Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, and, for pesticide residues, the New Zealand Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) standard. Make sure you're familiar with these requirements.
- Read the Food Act 1981 on the NZ Legislation website
- Read the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code on the Food Standards website
- Read about the NZ Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) Standards
Check the destination country's food safety requirements
Some destination countries have different or additional food safety standards or requirements, and it's your responsibility to comply with them. They may include food safety requirements for pesticide residues, micro-organisms, and contaminants or 'foreign bodies'.
Check the destination country's food safety criteria by contacting their official food regulator, or ask your import agent.
Check the pesticide maximum residue levels (MRLs)
Most countries have maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides, to safeguard consumer health and to promote good agricultural practice (GAP) in the use of insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and other agricultural compounds.
Sometimes the MRLs set by your export destination country are more stringent than New Zealand's. The country you're exporting to may carry out border testing to make sure your consignment meets their MRLs.
The MRLs for many countries are held in a searchable database maintained by MPI. You can search by country, crop, or pesticide. (Note that MPI cannot guarantee the accuracy of this database.) You should also check the destination country's relevant legislation before exporting your product.
Find out more
- Learn more about MRLs for agricultural compounds
- Read about good agricultural practice on the NZ GAP website
Undertake pesticide residue testing, if required
The industry group may have an industry export programme for your product. It may specify rules for pesticide use and residue testing. Contact your industry group for more information.
If residue testing is required, MPI has recognised several laboratories that do residue analysis using specified test methods.
Check the industry group's requirements
Industry groups sometimes set other requirements. You may be able to find contact details for your product on the Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) or Horticulture New Zealand websites, or contact them for more information.
- Search for a product group on the HEA website
- Check Horticulture New Zealand's website for industry links and product groups
Check HEA's requirements if you are exporting these products:
- buttercup squash
Check the destination country's labelling and packaging requirements
There may be food, packaging, or other labelling requirements for your produce. Ask your importer or agent about any requirements that your produce needs to meet.
Check wood packaging requirements
If you use wood packaging products other than paper for your export product, check that your wood packaging meets the phytosanitary requirements of the destination country. Most countries require you to treat wood packaging to make sure it's free of pests and diseases.
Request a phytosanitary certificate, if required
MPI issues phytosanitary certificates when it considers that your products meet all of the importing country's phytosanitary requirements.
If you need a phytosanitary certificate, request it through ePhyto, MPI's online phytosanitary certification system. You can register to use ePhyto yourself, or contact an IVA to discuss your options.
You may need to include the certificate in the documents you give to your freight or shipping company.
Already registered with ePhyto?
- Login to ePhyto to request a phytosanitary certificate
- Download the ePhyto application form to change organisation and/or individual details [PDF, 114 KB]
- Download the ePhyto application form to remove individual access [PDF, 105 KB]
New to using ePhyto?
You've met MPI requirements when you're issued with all the approved documentation, like phytosanitary certificates, as required by the destination country.
Who to contact
MPI uses authorised Independent Verification Agencies (IVAs) to provide information for exporters, including destination country requirements, ePhyto requests and verification, phytosanitary inspection, and pest surveys.
If you have questions about phytosanitary requirements, contact an IVA.
For other enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.