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Where to from here? Adding Value to New Zealand’s Food Exports

New Zealand is almost at capacity.

Under the current model, there is little room left to expand agricultural and horticultural production without risking our national food brand.

So how will New Zealand double primary sector exports from $32 billion in 2012 to $64 billion in 2025?

This was the theme at the heart of the first New Zealand Food Summit on the 28th and 29th March.  As chairman, I was fortunate to have a front-row seat as leading figures from all sectors of the food industry, locally and internationally, worked on solutions to continue increasing the export value of our food products, technologies, and services.

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about New Zealand’s food industry.  Historically important industries like dairy, apples, and kiwifruit are adding hundreds of millions of dollars of export revenue to the New Zealand economy each year.  Export revenues in the innovative foods category were $500 million higher in January 2017 than January 2012.

New businesses are opening up multi-million dollar categories that did not exist ten years ago.  Added value sheep milk products for Asia, branded protein smoothies conquering US retail and new apple varieties being sold in airtight containers to guarantee their integrity, businesses are continuously adding value to traditional industries alongside innovative new products.

So, what were some key lessons from the Summit that all New Zealand export businesses can take home?  Adding value can happen at any step of the food value chain but being Katabolt we have focused on messages from the market.  While these are far from comprehensive these are some that caught our eyes and ears.

  1. Be clear who you are.  You can sell commodities or branded product but there are few examples of success in both.  Each requires different skill sets and investment models.  Understanding what skill set your business needs to thrive is essential to success.
  2. Get into the market, a lot. Whether looking to understand the opportunities for new products or services or build long term relationships with customers, insight, and trust comes from being there.  If you are aiming to export be ready to get on the plane frequently.
  3. Don’t forget that our ordinary is extraordinary in many parts of the world.  The purity of our food and environment remains unobtainable for many nations and we need to nurture it as a core strategic pillar of our food brand.  If the provenance of your offer is its strongest benefit, work out how to support it.
  4. Competition is fierce so be clear about how you are differentiating from others in your target market.  For example, did you know The Netherlands is the number one supplier of infant formula to China? And Ireland has just overtaken New Zealand for the number two spot.  Many countries in the world claim clean and green status so to add value New Zealand food products need to meet a specific need or demand as well as being pure, safe and traceable.
  5. Marketing, marketing, marketing! Whether it is building key account management programs for international B2B customers or investing in integrated consumer marketing campaigns, directing customers to your business and retaining their loyalty never stops.

We love this subject.

Feel free to contact us for a conversation on how to position or food offers for export success.  Or drop us a line to let us know what your most powerful market lessons as a food exporter have been.

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