However, B+LNZ’s overseas offices in Brussels and China will remain open. It is unclear if any jobs are at risk in the offices that will close.
The fresh approach from B+LNZ was announced by the board’s chairman James Parsons, who said the change “will drive greater impact for farmers on every levy dollar invested”.
Parsons added: “B+LNZ will transition out of a market maintenance role in mature markets to focus on developing future growth opportunities, while meat companies will continue their efforts to maintain existing markets.”
B+LNZ is funded by livestock farmers and its new marketing strategy will see farmers and holistic agriculture at the heart of the plan to target new markets. By focusing on New Zealand’s free-range, grass-fed, high-welfare livestock systems, the levy board hopes to differentiate its meat from that of international competitors.
The strategy has been in the pipeline for over 12 months and its creation involved “intense engagement” with levy payers.
“We consulted widely over 12 months, running numerous focus groups and workshops and the result is quite a fundamental shift in approach, strongly supported by meat exporters and farmers,” said Parsons.
“We are confident the new approach will drive greater impact for farmers on every levy dollar invested. While New Zealand’s beef and lamb products are well positioned in consumers’ minds, farmgate returns are still not satisfactory and an area we can influence is how we better position our products in consumers’ minds.”
News of the fundamental strategy shift comes as research from UK data agency Mintec shows New Zealand lamb prices are down by 5% year-on-year. This is thanks to decline in exports resulting from a lower production base and the effects of a stronger New Zealand dollar against other currencies. Since May 2016, exports of both fresh and frozen New Zealand lamb have fallen. Around 16,857 tonnes (t) were exported in July, a 22% drop compared to July 2015.
The value of the New Zealand dollar against the US dollar has increased by 15% since January, which has made New Zealand lamb more expensive on the international market.