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Keeping Agriculture Healthy

Greetings Readers

The Biosecurity Minister is upset by the incorrect disease status information on New Zealand livestock being broadcast by the International Press.

He is right that the country is “hugely dependent on a strong and healthy agricultural sector”. He is wrong and wasting effort trying to get the claims retracted after the event.

Strong branding for all New Zealand agricultural products is desperately needed. Not only product name branding, but “country of origin branding” of the features and qualities represented in New Zealand produced food.

For many reasons the promotion of New Zealand’s food products has bumped along at the bottom end of the market, primarily positioned by price and a minimal amount of information depicted by prints of snow topped mountains and green grass.

The State has seen fit to present the tourist industry with a large annual fund for the promotion of NZ as a destination. Why has it neglected positioning its biggest industry – farming – in the minds of its customers as a producer of quality food?

The Minister’s huffing and puffing after bad press only highlights the damage done after the horse has bolted. This can only be offset by quality information in the minds of the customer prior to the event.

It is unlikely that a retailer in Singapore will want to describe the disease status of New Zealand livestock when selling a cut of beef for $20 a kilo. But strategies and techniques abound for targeting and informing opinion makers in our export markets.

The Minister could demonstrate some leadership and introduce a structured strategy for the development of a mark on all NZ products that represents the qualities and safety inherent in New Zealand food products.

If we learn nothing from the current livestock turmoil in Europe we will be bound to suffer the same marketing setbacks in the future.

Good farming

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