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Far-Reaching Possibilities For New Zealand Agricultural Exporters Follow Fieldays

A number of export opportunities and leads are starting to come to fruition after this year’s Fieldays events, say key industry players.

John Wilson, CEO of NZ Agritech Inc (the umbrella organisation for agri-technology exporters) says a highlight of the National Fieldays this year was the visit from major Australian agriculture buyers.

“The buyers programme was unbelievably successful. A major benefit was it allowed New Zealand companies access to the national buyers of the Australian companies,” says John Wilson.

Senior managers from Combined Rural Traders, Elders, Tasman Farm Equipment and Roberts Ltd came to Fieldays, as well as making visits to a number of agri-technology companies in Auckland and the Waikato. The buyers between them control millions of dollars of agricultural retail sales throughout Australia.

“The net result from the visit was that the Australian buyers have significantly expanded their ideas about the agri-technology products that come out of New Zealand,” says John Wilson. “One buyer alone has made contact with eight New Zealand companies he was not previously aware of. They are working towards getting New Zealand products on the shelves over in Australia.

“Overall the buyers visit was so successful we will be repeating it next year in an expanded form.”

Another highlight of Fieldays was a visit by three journalists from South America. The visit was organised by Trade New Zealand (now New Zealand Trade and Enterprise) and is the second year the programme has run. The journalists came from Chile, Argentina and Peru.

Grant Sewell, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) Agritech and Life Sciences Client Manager, says the reason NZTE brought the journalists to New Zealand was because South Americans typically look to Europe and North America for technology. If New Zealand wants to get noticed and develop its market in South America, then we need to make committed efforts to maintain our profile in that market.

“Succeeding in South America is about commitment, you may have to go back several times to get anywhere, so it requires a lot of investment to get a result. The way you approach it is important also as South American farmers don’t like to be told how do things, a problem solving approach will ultimately bear much better results.”

“The main challenge for New Zealand exporters in South America is the need to adapt our technologies to a different environment because South American farmers have different needs. For example, electric fences need a constant power source which isn’t always available in South America, so manufacturers need to include solar generation panels in their system offerings.”

The South American journalists went on an intensive visiting programme around New Zealand over a ten day period including three days at the National Agricultural Fieldays. They visited a variety of companies, farming enterprises, universities, local rural media, and had an interview with the Hon Jim Sutton, Minister of Agriculture and Foreign Trade.

Grant Sewell says that each of the journalists is going to publish articles on various aspects of their visit over several months. This will ensure that individual companies and New Zealand generally will get continual exposure in Peru, Chile and Argentina over the period the articles are published.

John Wilson says only time will tell the true value of inviting overseas journalists, but he thinks it is an essential first step.

“It’s a way to start selling our message into other countries. The next step is to follow up with roadshows and trade missions to those countries.”

The third major event at Fieldays was the inaugural Networking Function organised by NZ Agritech and Trade New Zealand, and was the biggest business event ever held at Fieldays. The event was for New Zealand agri-technology exporters, journalists and overseas buyers and attracted about 195 people. The speaker for the evening was Eric Rush who had inspirational messages for New Zealand companies about becoming world class from small beginnings.

John Wilson says there were 35 overseas buyers, distributors and agents present and a good opportunity to network

“The key to the evening was associating with overseas people. After the event we received very positive feedback about the value of the event in terms of business and networking opportunities it provided for New Zealand businesses. It will certainly be an annual event from now on.”

Another part of Fieldays which scored good export deals was the International Business Centre, an area set up by Trade New Zealand (now NZTE), Export New Zealand and ANZ Bank. Several overseas buyers used the Business Centre as a base to search for exhibitors of interest and availed themselves of the services on offer. A Korean film crew who were making a documentary on milk also came through the centre and were put in touch with several New Zealand companies, as it was a great opportunity to highlight New Zealand leadership, innovation, and clean green image.

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