NZ provenance key to competitiveness

KPMG surveyed young agribusiness leaders, who said a New Zealand 'brand' might help the country position itself as a supplier of premium produce.

New Zealand’s young agribusiness leaders think world-class biosecurity and “telling the provenance stories of New Zealand” are top priorities, according to a report by KPMG.

KPMG New Zealand has published its second Agribusiness Agenda 2015, which usually asks senior agribusiness leaders to vote on a list of their priorities for the sector, has added younger market participants’ opinions for the first time.

Both existing and emerging leaders said maintaining world-class biosecurity was their number one priority. Both groups also highlighted the importance of high-quality trade agreements.

KPMG then hosted a summit for emerging leaders in Auckland, and the company’s Ian Proudfoot told Agri Investor: “We are the only developed country that relies on agriculture and farming in all its wider senses to generate a lot of our export earnings, and therefore a lot of our wealth. We need to be more competitive.”

A key finding from the summit was that New Zealand needed to create a brand that could guarantee the provenance of the country’s products. Proudfoot suggested that not only could this help New Zealand grow its reputation as a producer of premium products, it could also help tackle counterfeiting.

“We recognise there is something in excess of 10 times the amount of manuka honey being sold in China than we actually export to that market because there is a financial incentive to counterfeit the product,” said Proudfoot.

“I don’t think anyone is starting to use any of the solutions that I think would be a game-changer in terms of effectively linking a secure supply chain to some sort of integrity mark, so that people can understand the integrity of the product at the point of sale,” he said, adding that this needs to “come from and understanding that we can chemically footprint the product”.

“I always argue very strongly that NZ can produce enough food to feed 40m people but our goal is not to feed 40 million people, it’s to provide a small part of the diet probably around 800 million people, and provide the bit of the diet that they will pay the most for.”

The second volume of this year’s agenda also found that leaders wanted to develop partnerships with investors buying stakes in New Zealand agribusinesses, and encouraged famers to revisit the debate on whether New Zealand should be growing genetically-modified foods, according to consumer market demands.

“I actually believe our conversation about GM is not so much about whether we use GM or not, it is very much a conversation about what is at the core of the NZ provenance brand and what would drive the most returns for our industry,” said Proudfoot.