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NZ veggies may get boost from Japan radiation concerns

Vegetable exports from New Zealand to Japan and other Asian markets may increase as buyers shun Japanese products on concern they may be tainted with radiation from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, according to a Bloomberg report citing industry groups.

"People will seek alternative supplies and New Zealand is well-placed to meet that," said Simon Hegarty, chief executive officer of the New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority.

Japan imported NZD$123 million (USD$92 million) of vegetables from New Zealand last year and was the country's biggest market, according to Statistics New Zealand.

The Fukushima plant, hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, has contaminated soil, seawater and drinking water as it leaks radiation, prompting local and overseas consumers to seek safer food supplies. Governments worldwide have also curbed imports of Japanese foodstuffs.

"What has been harvested is what is available for our processors to sell and export," said Peter Silcock, chief executive officer of Horticulture New Zealand. "If there's a significant increase in demand, then it will take a little while to work through our system." – Source: Bloomberg