Our place in the world
Consumers are constantly demanding more and more for less money. New technology is assisting some industries to achieve this.
Food production has benefited from technology; whether it is artificial fertiliser, pesticides, irrigation application or precision machinery. Technology has been on our side.
The number of people a farmer can feed has doubled in the last decade and a half. As consumer wealth has migrated upwards less money is spent on food that in turn allows the purchase of new consumer goods and services.
The downside of this is that food is now taken for granted by citizens in western countries including our own. Seasonality has been lost and generally consumers have an expectation that most fruit and vegetables will be available all year round. Recently we have seen an outcry when the costs of producing certain food is hit by seasonal events and supplies have been limited pushing up prices on the shelves.
It is now common for complains to be aired in the media and the non-understanding consumer to be completely unaware that it is winter (cold and wet) or a storm has passed through.
Disruption to supply chains is not tolerated.
If we extend the same thinking offshore to our export markets, are we relevant? Would someone miss us if we didn’t turn up or ship our produce?
It is frightening to go to Asia Fruit Logistica held in Hong Kong each year and see the competition. Our customers have a huge range of choice at competitive pricing. Outside of some dairy products, lamb and kiwifruit we are largely unnoticed as a supplier with a globally recognised branded product.
That is the cold reality we face. Rising wealth in Asia is demanding of high quality, safe and healthy food.
Safe, high quality and healthy….isn’t that us?
It sure is. That is certainly what we try to do - that is the New Zealand fruit and vegetable industries.
But how do we stand out?
Interestingly, it probably isn’t the fact that we individually knock on a lot of customer doors. It is more likely to be as a result of trade agreements, high profile New Zealanders, tourists visiting our country and a few strong brands.
I suspect we have to thank people like Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, our sporting stars and a series of very good Prime Ministers.
Recently, Jacinda Ardern visited the United States and was a huge hit across a broad spectrum of political persuasions. Most New Zealanders were immensely proud of what she achieved in the space of just a few days. She was the face and
“That is the cold reality we face. Rising wealth in Asia is demanding of high quality, safe and healthy food.”
voice of our country and reflected who we are and what we stand for. From her United Nations formal speech to light-hearted late night TV appearance she stood out as a modern political leader. Even some Australians wanted to adopt her as their own.
For two decades we have had very stable government with the Clark, Key, English and now Ardern administrations steering a centrist and consistent path. This platform has allowed business, trade and industry to get on and grow. Not everyone will agree with every aspect of those government policies or actions but the overall outcomes have been good for our country.The collective contribution is having a positive and noticeable effect.
The trick for us is how do we build on this?
How do we cement our place in the world?
I often quote Benjamin Disraeli’s famous saying “the secret of success is consistency of purpose”…. In other words you have to keep doing the right things with sufficient effort for a period of time to succeed.
This was probably good enough in Benjamin’s time in the 1800s but it doesn’t quite get us there today.
Most of us agree that NZ and New Zealanders have to keep doing the right things time and time again to succeed. However, I feel at times we are good at doing this but only to a point.
Modern customers are attracted to a good story and we need to get better at our story telling. The best brand experts do this with ease. It would be better if we sold less for more and invested more into our marketing/branding. Repeat sales are always an indication of a well-recognised brand with a high quality consistent product or service. This is what we need to strive for.
My conclusion is that we have nearly found our place in the world but we are not there yet.