S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y

Idealog - - EXPORT GUIDE -

PIC­TURE THIS. A shop­per of the fu­ture is rush­ing around the su­per­mar­ket. They care about where their food comes from, par­tic­u­larly its green cre­den­tials. They see a bot­tle of olive oil with a green tick. What does it mean? Is it gen­uine? No longer do they have to take out their smart­phone to test the brand’s cre­den­tials.

In­stead they put their hand over the bot­tle and in­for­ma­tion about its prove­nance ap­pears in a dig­i­tal panel above the prod­uct.

This vi­sion of the su­per­mar­ket of the fu­ture comes from Cen­tral Euro­pean co- op­er­a­tive re­tailer Coop, pre­sented at Expo Mi­lano, a six-month ex­hi­bi­tion tak­ing place be­tween May and Oc­to­ber this year. The expo is ad­ver­tised as an op­por­tu­nity to ex­change ideas and share so­lu­tions on food themes, and pro­mote in­no­va­tion for a sus­tain­able fu­ture.

NZ trade com­mis­sioner Ann Clif­ford is work­ing at the ex­hi­bi­tion, and says sus­tain­abil­ity is def­i­nitely a fo­cus of re­tail­ers in Europe.

Euro­pean shop­pers in­creas­ingly want more than just food that won’t poi­son them; they are look­ing to buy prod­ucts with proven eth­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity, she says.

Nearly one third of UK shop­pers sought out eth­i­cally sourced and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly prod­ucts in 2014 and over 83% of UK house­holds pur­chased or­ganic prod­ucts in 2014, ac­cord­ing to Nielsen re­search.

Clif­ford says any food brand want­ing to en­ter the UK mar­ket has to have an el­e­ment of its sales pitch fo­cused on how the com­pany has ad­dressed sus­tain­abil­ity. In this case, sus­tain­abil­ity means prove­nance and care of the raw prod­uct, min­imis­ing waste, mak­ing the most of the raw ma­te­rial through find­ing a va­ri­ety of ways to use it, and the abil­ity to tell and back up your story.

Clif­ford says Kiwi com­pa­nies are in a great place to meet the sus­tain­abil­ity trend, but we shouldn’t as­sume con­sumers know that.

“Few UK con­sumers re­alise that pretty much all NZ lamb and beef is grass fed. Be­ing aware of trends and telling the story well is im­por­tant,” she says.

While New Zealand com­pa­nies should be push­ing their sus­tain­abil­ity cri­te­ria in Europe and the US, the story is dif­fer­ent in Asia, where the sus­tain­abil­ity fo­cus is more around health than an­i­mal wel­fare or care for the en­vi­ron­ment, ac­cord­ing to NZTE’s 2014 Sus­tain­abil­ity Trends for Food and Bev­er­age in Asia re­port.

Sin­ga­pore is prob­a­bly five years be­hind Europe in terms of con­sumer con­cern about the en­vi­ron­men­tal and eth­i­cal im­pact of what they eat, and places like South Korea could be 10 years be­hind, the re­port says.

In China and Tai­wan the fo­cus is more on safety than sus­tain­abil­ity, af­ter a num­ber of food scares, al­though in In­dia the two are linked af­ter the wide­spread harm­ful use of pes­ti­cides, toxic colours, ripen­ing and stor­age agents.

Hong Kong may be the Asian ex­cep­tion to the rule, the re­port sug­gests, at least in terms of fish­ing. The ter­ri­tory is one of the world’s largest per capita con­sumers of seafood, with the av­er­age res­i­dent con­sum­ing four times more fish than the world av­er­age.

Overfishing has led to a dra­matic de­cline in fish stocks mean­ing lo­cal con­sumers are pay­ing more at­ten­tion to sus­tain­able fish­ing is­sues, ac­cord­ing to the NZTE re­port.

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