February 23, 2021

Export Recovery Series | Olivia Egerton, Katabolt | Unleashing The Potential Of Our Primary Sector

We’ve heard time and time again during our Export Recovery Series, the value and opportunities for New Zealand in a Covid-19 world are sitting inside the Primary Sector - how do we unleash the value that’s yet to be untapped?

If you’re currently exporting in the primary sector, or looking to export in the primary sector, you’ll know the value and potential that lies within the sector. 

In this week’s Export Recovery Series Interview, Andy Mitchell, Katabolt Growth Strategist welcomes Olivia Egerton, Katabolt Export Business Advisor and Primary Sector Lead to the virtual lockdown couch to discuss the challenges and opportunities in transforming the primary sector towards high value growth.

Watch the interview or read our key outtakes below to learn:

  • Insights from our primary sector including the impact of COVID-19 on Kiwi exporters of primary products
  • Why New Zealand is the perfect sandpit for prototyping and market testing
  • Which sectors inside the primary sector are driving growth and what Kiwi exporters can learn from them
  • How can New Zealand drive the growth of the primary sector and move companies in this sector towards high-value growth?
  • The importance of market alignment to capitalise on existing opportunities

Key Outtakes

Insights from our primary sector 

  • There's no broad sweeping situation for everyone. Challenges for the sector are around food safety and trade barriers depending on where each market is in terms of COVID-19.
  • There is an opportunity for retailers to introduce international people to the New Zealand primary sector as people spend more time at home, more interested in what they consume, and spend more time cooking.
  • Brand New Zealand and the macro provenance of our primary sector is engineering more value today than it was 12 months ago.
  • The primary exporting community is often overgeneralised as a single block, but it’s more complex. Certain elements or segments standout for their performance at the present moment.
  • High nutritional products are seeing strong growth
  • The rise of the homebody economy overseas has allowed New Zealand exporters of primary products, in particular proteins, to enter into new retail markets where predominantly they might have been into food service. 
  • With exporters unable to get boots on the ground in their markets there is more time to look inwards and ask - where are the opportunities? Find new ways of articulating what you do and how you do it.
  • New Zealand is perfectly positioned to explore the opportunity to deliver higher quality, premium protein both in the animal protein space and the plant protein space. 
  • The immediate value opportunity is based upon people's needs to have security of product, security of nutrition, and security of quality on top of that.

New Zealand is the perfect sandpit for testing

  • Exporters can conduct market testing at home. Prove that this moves them into higher value space before investing to go overseas to a bigger export market.
  • New Zealand’s deep foodie culture helps exporters evolve products and product opportunities in the domestic market. 
  • On farm testing of products like sensors and pasture mapping can still be carried out in full lockdown if the setup is completed on the farm, in the sea, on the seabed etc
  • The technology sector here in New Zealand is growing rapidly and quite quietly in the background. There is the opportunity for us to apply and test and prototype technologies here in our own backyard. 

Lessons from driving high value growth in the primary sector

  • Transformation doesn’t happen on its own, it requires deep focus and capability to understand the difficult and rather complex line to market and then managing to evolve, prototype and understand market feedback.
  • New Zealand Primary Sector Boot Camp discovered there are a few features of high value enterprises that are critical towards success: pivotal leaders, ambition and attitude, a strategic anchor or focus, investment, and getting to know your customers.
  • America is really 52 countries within one. We need to get better at telling our story, spend more time listening to the customers in the market, and then tailor our products to the needs of that market - they’re not all on a similar journey as New Zealand is.
  • The New Zealand primary sector companies have been largely siloed - bringing the silos together allows exporters to work powerfully as a group, and to harness that, collaborating to create a bigger presence into the market.
  • Look for opportunities to create beautiful synergies of products e.g wine and oysters. They can take some shelf or retail space together and help each other grow sales.
  • Iti Nui is acting both big and small, and at the same time. Those small actions that you take can have big ramifications on where you're going to be in the next 12 to 24 months. 
  • There are huge gains to be made from some of the sensor technology and robotics that enable deeper measurements into what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and where the opportunity is. 
  • Have empathy, get insight into the opportunity, build it with a broad range of people who understand deeply what you’re trying to do. Have the confidence to rapidly do something, test it, reflect on it and not hold too closely to what your original idea was. 

The importance of market alignment and moving fast

  • There's an inherent tension in having to know everything and having to act fast. We need to align with the market but move at pace as markets are rapidly changing.
  • There’s a huge opportunity at the touch of your fingertips. Lean on your customer managers at NZTE - You don't have to do this alone. You don't have to put all the investment in straight off.
  • Don’t lose sight of the person you're designing, creating, growing for. Get insight into what this person is actually wanting.
  • The homebody movement is growing where people have been empowered to do everything online. How can we capitalise on that opportunity especially when the ecommerce opportunity is endless?
  • We need to position ourselves to take that opportunity where there's food scarcity in a huge crisis and understand how we can deliver the nutrients to the world.


On market, partner, channel selection  – Christopher Boys, Katabolt – christopherboys@katabolt.com

Katabolt | https://www.katabolt.com/

NZTE - Exporting with NZTE | https://www.nzte.govt.nz/page/exporting-with-nzte

KEA New Zealand | https://www.keanewzealand.com

The Katabolt Export Recovery Series has been running since March as a resource designed by exporters, for exporters, to help the New Zealand export community better understand the post-lockdown world that we now find ourselves in.

All the Export Recovery Series Webinars and Interviews are available to watch here, alongside contact details of all our panelists, and the key outtakes and resources from each.

The Export Recovery Panel team would like to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of our friends at Kea New Zealand and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for helping to make these webinars possible. Thank you.