Green im­age is not enough for NZ

South Waikato News - - Property - PAT DEAVOLL

New Zealand’s clean, green im­age is no sell­ing point for the coun­try’s pri­mary in­dus­tries, says Syn­lait Milk chief ex­ec­u­tive John Penno.

Penno said he was not a be­liever in ‘‘the NZ story.’’

‘‘We don’t have a mo­nop­oly on beau­ti­ful clean green places, and yet we act as if we do and act as if peo­ple should pay us for it,’’ he told in­dus­try peo­ple at the NZ In­sti­tute of Agri­cul­tural and Hor­ti­cul­tural Sci­ence ‘‘To­wards 2030’’ fo­rum at Lin­coln Univer­sity. ’’They won’t.’’

‘‘New Zealand has no ad­van­tages in clean-green over Aus­tralia, North Amer­ica or the Euro­pean coun­tries,’’ he said.

Penno thinks most af­flu­ent con­sumers want to buy lo­cal pro­duce and will only buy for­eign if they have to.

‘‘Would you rather buy lo­cal beef or im­ported beef,’’ he said. ‘‘It goes with­out say­ing you would choose lo­cal beef.’’

‘‘In­ter­est­ingly, our part­ner in Los An­ge­les apol­o­gises in his mar­ket­ing ma­te­rial that he works

‘‘We don't have a mo­nop­oly on beau­ti­ful, clean, green places.’’ John Penno

with a New Zealand part­ner. He says ‘if I could get this same prod­uct in the US I would but I can’t so I have gone to the next best thing’ which is a sup­plier in New Zealand

‘‘This may be dif­fer­ent in places like China but I think that is short term.’’

Penno said Syn­lait had tried to ac­tively dis­tance it­self from the New Zealand im­age and cre­ate brands and part­ner­ships based on who it was.

Syn­lait had built a grass-fed pro­to­col for its farm­ers. Farm­ers were paid a 25c pre­mium per kilo­gram of milk­solids to pro­duce the milk the com­pany wanted.

‘‘What Syn­lait is try­ing to do is find things where the farm­ing gen­uinely adds to the value of the prod­uct, and then lock that in and charge the con­sumer for it. It has to be some­thing the con­sumer wants to pay for and in this case it’s grass-fed.’’

Syn­lait had done mar­ket re­search in the US and its con­sumer and what they were pre­pared to pay for their milk prod­ucts. The re­search found that or­gan­ics was ‘‘on the way out’’ but they loved the thought of grass-fed be­cause it was how their grand­fa­ther had done it and how they felt farm­ing should be

‘‘It doesn’t mat­ter where they are, wealthy peo­ple are pre­pared to pay for food if it’s good and nu­tri­tious, looks after the an­i­mals, the en­vi­ron­ment and the peo­ple work­ing around it.’’

Syn­lait Milk chief ex­ec­u­tive John Penno doesn’t be­lieve in the New Zealand story.

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