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New Zealand needs a peak body to boost agri-food exports, says institute

By Ankush Chibber , 02-Aug-2012

A new report from the Riddet Institute has asked for a joint effort from industry and government to treble the value of New Zealand’s agri-food exports by the year 2025. 

One of the most important recommendations in the ‘A Call to Arms’ report is to establish an Agri-food Board that will be the focal point for sector leaders to work together, and for industry to lead work with government to grow food exports to NZ$62bn by 2025.

Noting that to achieve the target an annual growth rate of 7% will be required, Riddet has proposed strategies that if implemented, will lift the performance of businesses, industries within the sector, and agri-food as a whole. 

Strategies and Enablers

Among the ‘transformational strategies’ proposed are to selectively and profitably increase the quantities and sales of the current range of agri-food products and to become world leaders in sustainability and product integrity.

Also proposed is for New Zealand to produce and market new and innovative high value food and beverage products, and develop value chains that enhance the integrity, value and delivery of New Zealand products and increase profits to producers, processors and exporters.

Professor Paul Moughan, co-director at the Riddet Institute, told FoodNavigator-Asia that there has been discussion in New Zealand in the past about a more orchestrated approach to increasing production and productivity, and there are many examples of valuable cooperation within industry that have resulted.

“There is an urgency to increase and formalise these levels of orchestration of effort. More rapid progress can be made of a comprehensive, well-resourced and formalised plan,” Moughan said.

To accomplish these strategies, Riddet has also proposed some enablers including developing strong consumer-driven export marketing of branded consumer and ingredient products, and increasing capability and skills of the agri-food industry and supporting industries.

But the most important enabler proposed was for New Zealand to develop a transformational industry and government leadership in agri-food.

The peak body question

The report noted there has been a lack of leadership (particularly from industry chief executives) to animate the process and carry it through, with many New Zealanders waiting for government to take the lead.

 “Past or proposed peak bodies traditionally had no teeth and yet a peak body was still seen as a means of providing the necessary leadership to drive the required changes and to provide a long-term focus that would survive the political changes that follow the short electoral cycle,” it noted.

“But, so much more could be achieved by strengthened government-industry partnership. This is particularly important for the food industry, which makes such a significant contribution to the New Zealand economy.”

He added: “There are many examples of very effective business-to-business cooperation and industry-government alignment – we need to build off this.” 

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