NZI Great­est Con­tri­bu­tion to a Sus­tain­able New Zealand (supreme award) and Restora­tive Im­pact Award

Element - - Sus­tain­able Busi­nesses -

Win­ner: Taupo Beef

Taupo Beef was named the over­all win­ner of the 2015 NZI Sus­tain­able Busi­ness Net­work Awards held at Shed 10 on Auck­land’s wa­ter­front last week.

Taupo Beef won the Restora­tive Im­pact Award as well as the ‘NZI Great­est Con­tri­bu­tion to a Sus­tain­able New Zealand’ (supreme award) through its vi­sion to lead New Zealand beef farm­ing while also pro­tect­ing the wa­ter qual­ity in Lake Taupo.

New Zealand’s farm­ers typ­i­cally re­spond to ad­ver­sity by grow­ing more.

That op­tion’s not avail­able to Taupo landown­ers, who had to re­duce the amount of ni­tro­gen flow­ing into the lake from farms by 20 per cent.

Since a ma­jor source of ni­tro­gen is cat­tle urine, that means car­ry­ing fewer cows, and keep­ing the ones left away from the wa­ter.

It could also mean changing land use, and a fund was cre­ated to buy up land and con­vert it to forestry.

Mike Bar­ton didn’t want to grow pine trees, and his rolling hills aren’t suit­able for hor­ti­cul­ture or crop­ping, but they are suit­able for grass that an­i­mals can wan­der over. So, if he grew fewer cows, how could he keep earn­ings up?

His an­swer was to raise the value of his meat by sell­ing it with a sus­tain­abil­ity back story.

“I thought if a vis­i­tor comes to the lake sight­see­ing or trout fish­ing and is blown away by the ex­cep­tional wa­ter qual­ity, and if they go back to their ho­tel and there is meat on the menu grown in the catch­ment un­der a model that pro­tects the catch­ment, they might be pre­pared to pay a pre­mium,” Bar­ton says.

He tri­alled the idea in 2011 with some high-end restau­rants, and within six weeks his Taupo Beef steaks were out­selling con­ven­tional cuts by four to one.

There are now five farms sup­ply­ing beef as well as or­ganic lamb, and Taupo Beef now also sells to re­tail out­lets around the North Is­land, in­clud­ing Vic­to­ria Park New World, Farro Fresh and Four Square out­lets.

Rachel Brown, Sus­tain­able Busi­ness Net­work chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer said: “Told that it wouldn’t work, Taupo Beef is in­stead re­ceiv­ing out­stand­ing re­views for its beef and is demon­strat­ing how New Zealand farm­ers can change to pro­duce a high-value prod­uct while also farm­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally and sus­tain­ably.”

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