I remember as a kid seeing photos of ships being loaded with export goods at ports around New Zealand. There were no container ships back then, and those exports were mostly bulk commodities – meat, dairy, wool, and so on. No sign of the high-value, premium finished food and beverage products that make up an increasing percentage of our exports today.
Times have changed. New Zealand has slowly morphed into an excellent producer of value added food and beverages – and that’s where the greater profits lie as there are generally slim margins associated with high volume commodities.
This month’s focus on the food and beverage export sector is by no means comprehensive – we could never print enough pages to fully cover such a dynamic industry. But it did remind us of some of the key factors in our F&B export success – value-added products being one of them; the importance of new technologies in ensuring safety and authenticity being another.
Interestingly, as I was preparing the story, I found myself in communication with a young American PR professional based in New York.
I wondered if this young American, Randi, who has never been to these shores, was aware of any New Zealand food or beverage brands available in the US. Much to my surprise, she couldn’t name any, although she did recall seeing various New Zealand wines on some shelves.
Randi understands how daunting the US market must be for Kiwi exporters. Brands must constantly update and reinvent themselves to stay relevant and grab the attention of consumers, she says. Competition is fierce.
But she did have positive impressions of New Zealand gained through the Peter Jackson movies filmed here and photos posted on social media site Pinterest. And, in early April, the New Zealand tour by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was getting healthy coverage in US media.
So talk of the royal tour providing valuable exposure for this country in offshore markets is indeed accurate. We just have to organise some major F&B brand association for the next visit! Glenn H. Baker firstname.lastname@example.org