NZ- China trade: trust is gold



New Zealand ex­porters had an op­por­tu­nity the size of China in Novem­ber to cap­ture the at­ten­tion of the world’s largest e-com­merce mar­ket.

Trade com­mis­sion­ers and ex­porters trav­elled to Shang­hai for the in­au­gu­ral China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo (CIIE); New Zealand Week – fea­tur­ing New Zealand F&B brands – took place from Novem­ber 1st to 15th; and Alibaba Sin­gles' Day – the world’s largest e-com­merce shop­ping day – took place on 11 Novem­ber.

A com­bi­na­tion of China’s debt, trade tension with the US and reg­u­la­tory un­cer­tainty has been a con­cern for ex­porters re­cently. En­cour­ag­ingly, fol­low­ing re­ports of a slow­ing econ­omy, China has also shown ro­bust GDP growth in the first half of 2018, sta­ble lead­er­ship and so­ci­ety, and strong growth of do­mes­tic tourism and con­sump­tion.

One of our part­ners, Stephen Ja­cobi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the NZ China Coun­cil ex­plained the China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo was de­signed to show China is open to busi­ness. “More than 90 Kiwi busi­nesses made the trip to show off their home­grown brands and grow their mar­ket pres­ence abroad. It was a unique op­por­tu­nity to build new re­la­tion­ships with buy­ers and con­sol­i­date new ones.”

But how does New Zealand get cut through in such a huge econ­omy and chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment? New Zealand busi­ness ini­tia­tive, HUI Maˉori Col­lec­tive fea­tured the Govern­ment-ac­cred­ited FernMark (along­side AsureQual­ity’s food safety ver­i­fi­ca­tion mark) on its Maˉori-branded prod­uct suite of high-qual­ity lo­cal food and bev­er­age prod­ucts at its launch in Shang­hai, and via NZ Post’s Tmall Global flag­ship store. The New Zealand Govern­ment FernMark Li­cence Pro­gramme ver­i­fies that prod­ucts are grown or made or de­signed in New Zealand by rep­utable New Zealand com­pa­nies.

The chair of the Col­lec­tive, Hay­den John­ston says their prod­ucts will hugely ben­e­fit from the FernMark’s as­so­ci­a­tion with brand New Zealand. “The FernMark of­fers a clear, vis­ual stamp of prove­nance and trust. It en­ables Chi­nese busi­nesses and con­sumers to au­then­ti­cate a prod­uct’s coun­try of ori­gin and, com­bined with brand New Zealand, is a pow­er­ful in­flu­ence on the pur­chase de­ci­sion-mak­ing in-mar­ket.

“The FernMark’s IP pro­tec­tion ser­vice also mon­i­tors over 1,000 e-com­merce mar­kets in China, in­clud­ing Tmall and Taobao. This helps to en­sure all prod­ucts bear­ing the FernMark are li­censed to do so, thereby pro­vid­ing a mark of trust and au­then­tic­ity.”

The FernMark is in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to brand New Zealand. For many Chi­nese, New Zealand is a brand, not a coun­try. And brands are im­por­tant in China. A 2016 Nielsen Global Brand-Ori­gin Re­port found 91 per­cent of Chi­nese re­spon­dents rated a brand’s coun­try of ori­gin is as im­por­tant as, or more im­por­tant than, other pur­chas­ing driv­ers such as se­lec­tion/choice, price, func­tion and qual­ity. Safer in­gre­di­ents and pro­cess­ing were the top rea­sons for choos­ing global brands (50 per­cent) 1.

“New Zealand’s trade with China con­tin­ues to grow strongly as Chi­nese con­sumers value our rep­u­ta­tion for qual­ity, sus­tain­abil­ity and safety,” adds Ja­cobi. “But New Zealand also faces grow­ing com­pe­ti­tion in China, which means we need to con­stantly re­view our mar­ket po­si­tion, un­der­stand­ing con­sumers’ needs and val­i­dat­ing our claims. The use of the FernMark is a great way of en­hanc­ing trans­parency and trust in our prod­ucts.”

Novem­ber’s trade ac­tiv­ity pre­sented the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to change these per­cep­tions and prove New Zealand’s worth be­yond nat­u­ral beauty. The FernMark, which re­ally res­onates in China – where food safety and brand pres­tige re­main two of the high­est con­sumer pri­or­i­ties – is in­valu­able to ex­porters to ac­cel­er­ate these con­ver­sa­tions. New Zealand ex­porters with trusted Govern­ment-back­ing will ul­ti­mately win – be­cause trust is gold in this trade cli­mate.

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