Bridging the knowledge gap between paddock and plate

As urban populations continue to grow, each generation will be further removed from the production of our food. So bridging the gap between paddock and plate will become increasingly more important for horticulture brands.

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John Bennett

General Manager Business & Agri ANZ

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In this article

Where our food comes from

There is a growing sense of unease about agriculture in this country. Particularly in urban areas, where many people don’t understand where their food comes from or how it is produced.

American agricultural biotechnologist Jack Bobo summed it up well when he said ’consumers have never cared more, nor known less, about where their food comes from’.

They choose – and increasingly it is a conscious choice – to buy food they feel has been produced in a way that aligns with their values. 

How do consumers place a value on what you do, if they don’t know your story?

Knowing the story

Last time you bought a pumpkin or squash at the supermarket, did you know where it came from, when it was grown, who grew it, how the farmer uses water or rotates crops to promote soil health?  

Probably not.

At the point of sale in New Zealand, there is often little or no information for the conscious consumer who isn’t already armed with a back catalogue of brand names they know and trust. 

So you wouldn’t be told at the point of sale that the squash displayed in the supermarket was produced in Hawke’s Bay or Gisborne and came from a New Zealand company called Three Good Men. Or that it was farmed sustainably with care for soil health, using little water resource and natural bee pollination.

The Three Good Men story

Three companies (the ‘three good men’) joined forces to create a brand that was bigger than just one grower. 

Growing, packing and exporting New Zealand squash, their business is built around the three promises of consistent quality, total traceability and customer happiness. 

Japan, Korea and increasingly China is where Three Good Men’s squash go, some 20,000 tonnes every year. 

At the point of sale in Asia, the consumer demands a completely different experience than in New Zealand – and Three Good Men recognised this. They’ve invested in understanding what the consumer wants and that has dictated how they tell their story.

They’ve designed and implemented a system to record the full story of everything they produce. 

Clients of Three Good Men have the reassurance of being able to trace details of the squash they import and sell to their customers.

And Asian retailers have really embraced this. At point of sale, consumers can see the grower story, through photographs, video and food tastings. They are educated about the quality, taste, origin and grower story of the product they are buying.

The part we play

At ANZ, we’re proud to say we play a small part in the Three Good Men story, and we see a great opportunity for the broader sector.

Horticulture forms a significant part of the New Zealand economy, and it continues to grow. Recent data puts the value of the sector at NZ$8 billion (including wine) with over NZ$5 billion of exports. In 2016 horticulture contributed 10.3% of New Zealand’s merchandise exports.

While wine, kiwifruit and apples dominate, there is a huge diversity of product – from onions, squash, and peas to avocados, cherries, and berry fruit. The corresponding diversity in land use, business models and markets make the sector an attractive growth proposition.

The key to success will be focussing on efficient and sustainable production systems, producing consistent and high-quality products. These should be combined with a deep understanding of consumer and market demands, and the ability to tell a clear and compelling story.

That will ensure a premium market position that will continue to attract investment. But we need to take consumers with us.

Urban populations will continue to grow, and each generation will be further removed from the production of our food. 

So, bridging the gap between the paddock and the plate will become increasingly more important for horticulture brands in New Zealand.

Contact an ANZ Agri Specialist

As each agricultural sector has its own unique characteristics and challenges, we have teams of specialists with in-depth knowledge and expertise in each of these areas to help support your agribusiness.

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