Biosecurity and Imported Furniture?


By Colleen Bryant, Relationship manager

“Unwanted pests arrive in comfort”  reports a Biosecurity monitoring survey of imported furniture  instigated by MAF Biosecurity New Zealand and reported in the Frontline News

“Since 1988 there have been 83 detections of exotic organisms associated with imported furniture entering New Zealand of which 41 percent came from China Indonesia and Thailand” the report went on to say that of the 37 lounge suites surveyed, comprising 51 individual items from retailers who routinely import couches from China and Malaysia and this is what they found… “construction materials used were of poor quality…undressed and dirty timber (even the occasional tree branch)”…most of us in the upholstery trade have seen this, and as the norm rather than the exception haven’t we?  It has been going on for the last five years so heaven knows what New Zealand forests are under threat from.

  • Of the 51 couches inspected 39 were contaminated with insets, pathogens, bark, plant material or had evidence of previous insect damage
  • 65 different types of wood were found to be used in the constructions of the couches…this alone increases the chance that a couch will introduce pest or pathogen to NZ.
  • 38 insects were found – only one alive the report says.  This is not good news for the end user of the couch…I wouldn’t my child sitting on something that could still carry a pest or pathogen – potentially a biosecurity risk and therefore at risk to our families I would have thought?
  • 11 couches were infested with fungi, and 10 of these infested with more than one species of fungi.  Six of the fungi were an identified species , I wonder what the others were or worse are still as if you can identify a fungi does that mean it is still alive?

Worried about that no so good smell of your new lounge suite?  Has your child come out in a rash? Is anyone else starting to itch?

The report finishes off by saying that the risk to New Zealand’s  bio security is low because importers voluntarily fumigate couches either overseas or in NZ.  Not sure I am happy with that because it is voluntary, no one is checking and some of those insects, fungi and woods were unidentified so how can they be sure that they are using the correct fumigation process or chemicals to do so.

Upholstery Fit Outs (UFO) holds the view that if our retailers purchased off our manufacturers and re-upholstered using our NZ upholsterers nationwide then that would be a cost effective method of keeping our biosecurity risk to New Zealand at a minimum.  Just because the unit price is cheap doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to get value for money and a product that will last and not harm us or our beautiful green clean New Zealand.

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