Collaboration is critical
Collaboration and a focus on customers is key to future success
By Adam Bates | Published 14:56, 13 April 12
Agriculture, horticultural and forestry industries make up over 70 percent of the value of New Zealand’s exports, it is therefore absolutely vital to the country’s prosperity. But what struck me from all my discussions was the level of collaboration between New Zealand’s public and private sectors to maximise the value from these industries; both for today and the long term.
New Zealand has created profitable industries selling products globally by unashamedly endorsing a premium image for certain products. A couple of examples illustrate this well:
Merino wool is labelled the ‘finest and softest wool available’. The Merino sheep live in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Wool from these sheep is an important export product and the duty free shops at the airport were packed with all sorts of woollen garments. I purchased a rather natty “Icebreaker GT quantum vest” for a premium price of £90.
The impressive thing, however, was that the product had a label sewn into the lining with a “baacode” (think about it). Enter this number into a website and you can quickly locate the exact farm from where your woollen vest came. Very slick, very compelling and clearly demonstrating the great cooperation between New Zealand’s farmers and Icebreaker, which manufactures and markets the goods.
Another example is the simple kiwifruit. Most of us have tasted kiwis at some stage; a fruit considered by many to be a clean, zesty and healthy snack. A New Zealand company, Zespri is the world’s largest marketer of kiwis.
It was formed following several years of overproduction and low prices for New Zealand farmers. It relies on a strong network of growers, post-harvest operators and other suppliers, distributors and customers to coordinate production and marketing of the fruit.
Zespri, however, is owned solely by 3,000 current and past growers. This collaboration is essential to ensure that funds are invested efficiently in marketing and innovative research and the benefits of scale are realised.
These examples highlight a few important points to me. First, it’s clear that the public and private sectors are planning strategically on how to deliver greater prosperity, security and opportunities through their industry.
Next, the industry is well aware of the many challenges involved in producing the best possible product. Whether it is the use of genetically modified genes, foreign ownership of agricultural land, the impact of a biosecurity incursion or attracting the right talent.
And also that collaboration between the producers, manufacturers and government is critical to ensure that the New Zealand product is able to punch above its weight in world markers.
My thoughts for 2020 then: If the public and private sector continue to work together, New Zealand will maintain its position as a provider of quality, sustainable and trustworthy agricultural products to world markets. As the demand for protein is increasing with many countries facing water scarcity, that puts New Zealand on a pretty strong footing.
So my questions to you include: how are you looking at innovative ways to collaborate with other parties to ensure you reach the right markets? How are you realising the value of working with government? And, how are you actively seeking lessons from other industries or geographies that you can apply to your own business?
By the way, the wool for my Icebreaker GT quantum vest came from four farms including Ida Valley owned by John Patterson.