Putting global trends to grow­ers

Rabobank for the first time has a New Zealand-based hor­ti­cul­tural an­a­lyst.

The Orchardist - - >>In Focus - By Rose Man­ner­ing

New se­nior hor­ti­cul­ture an­a­lyst for Rabobank, Hayden Hig­gins, is call­ing on grow­ers to come for­ward with wor­thy projects for him to re­search.

He’s based in Hast­ings and will be re­spon­si­ble for re­search into the hor­ti­cul­ture and viti­cul­ture sec­tors for the bank across Aus­trala­sia.

“My goal is to pro­vide in­sight­ful re­search for clients and prod­uct groups,” he said.

He forms part of a team of five Rabobank hor­ti­cul­tural an­a­lysts around the world whose re­search is in­tended to in­form both clients and the in­dus­try and pro­vide the bank with data to as­sist with their lend­ing cri­te­ria.

Hayden has a Bach­e­lor’s De­gree in Agribusi­ness from Massey Uni­ver­sity and com­pleted his Master’s De­gree through Lin­coln Uni­ver­sity with his dis­ser­ta­tion project fo­cus­ing on the gover­nance of large farm busi­nesses in New Zealand. Orig­i­nally from the Horowhenua re­gion in the North Is­land, an area known for hor­ti­cul­ture and pas­toral farm­ing, he de­vel­oped a keen in­ter­est in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor from a young age.

He joins the bank’s food and agribusi­ness re­search team af­ter eight years as a ma­jor agribusi­ness man­ager with Rabobank New Zealand. He has also served as chair of Rabobank’s NZ hor­ti­cul­ture strat­egy team since 2014.

Rapid growth of crops such as cher­ries or av­o­ca­dos could lead to an in­ter­est­ing anal­y­sis of global con­sump­tion trends.

“We want to gather in­for­ma­tion to out­line fu­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges for grow­ers,” he said.

Other ar­eas of po­ten­tial in­ter­est may be for or­ganic pro­duc­tion, or chang­ing buyer pat­terns such as on-line re­tail. Con­sumer at­ti­tude to sus­tain­abil­ity, and their will­ing­ness to pay for that at re­tail would also be an in­ter­est­ing area to an­a­lyse. Shop­pers also have a greater de­sire to know where their food comes from.

Other global fo­cuses in­clude a move away from sin­gle use plas­tics, how­ever con­sumers are of­ten con­flicted be­cause they want con­ve­nience prod­ucts which of­ten means plas­tic

pack­ag­ing is in­cluded to guar­an­tee food safety. Ex­am­ples of pack­ag­ing changes away from en­tirely plas­tic are the new Rockit-style cylin­ders. Food wastage is an­other area of global

con­cern.

The pic­ture for hor­ti­cul­ture in the last six to seven years has been pos­i­tive, with a re­duc­tion in trade bar­ri­ers al­low­ing bet­ter ex­port ac­cess, par­tic­u­larly in emerg­ing Asian economies. Con­sump­tion trends and com­pe­ti­tion for con­sumers’ fruit bowls could also bring im­por­tant lessons back to pro­duc­ers in NZ.

“Con­sumers are look­ing for food safety and qual­ity, and new and dif­fer­ent food pro­duc­tions, strong mar­ket­ing brands such as Ze­spri have pushed into Asian mar­kets,” he said.

Also, new va­ri­eties of ap­ples have found a greater ap­peal in Asian mar­kets.

“This lays a strong plat­form for con­fi­dence and growth.”

Con­sumer trends to­ward greater con­ve­nience and snack­ing foods bode well for fruit such as ap­ples and blue­ber­ries. Mil­len­ni­als have a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to­ward shop­ping than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, which may in­clude greater con­ve­nience, or a will­ing­ness to shop ev­ery day.

“My role is to un­der­stand the trends that are oc­cur­ring glob­ally in the food and hor­ti­cul­ture space,” he said.

One of his cur­rent projects is anal­y­sis for the Aus­tralian and United States’ al­mond in­dus­tries. In con­junc­tion with col­leagues in Cal­i­for­nia, they are look­ing at global sup­ply and de­mand, the ef­fect on pric­ing and what this means for Aus­tralian and US grow­ers.

“I can then bring this learn­ing back to cus­tomers, the up­side and the down­side.”

Rabobank NZ holds around 16 per­cent of ru­ral lend­ing in this coun­try and is a ma­jor provider of cor­po­rate and busi­ness bank­ing ser­vices to the food and agribusi­ness sec­tor. The NZ and Aus­tralian re­search team is part of a global net­work of more than 80 an­a­lysts across the bank.

“Mil­len­ni­als have a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to­ward shop­ping than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, which may in­clude greater con­ve­nience, or a will­ing­ness to shop ev­ery day.”

Hayden Hig­gins – anal­y­sis of global trends can show grow­ers new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

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