Nestlé Philippines, a unit of Swiss food giant Nestlé, has increased imports of milk products from New Zealand this year but denies that the current trade row between Australia and the Philippines had anything to do with the decision.

Nestlé Philippines CEO Juan B Santos told Business World that market forces influenced the decision: “We get out supply from sources which could give us the best pricing. We may have increased imports from New Zealand but it doesn’t necessarily mean we are shifting our supply source from Australia to New Zealand.”

Following Australia’s move to ban imports of Philippine fruit, it had been suggested that the Philippines Department of Agriculture may have been encouraging local companies to import milk products from New Zealand and India rather than Australia.

Santos denied that was the case with Nestlé.

Nestlé is the main producer of infant nutrition products in Southeast Asia as well as being a leading manufacturer of cereals and powdered milk. Nestlé Philippines exports its ice cream and confectionery products to Dubai, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Santos also denied that the company would relocate to China to take advantage of the potentially lucrative market there. Instead Nestlé will continue with its expansion of its three Philippines plants in order to reinforce the company’s presence in the local market and in foreign markets.