Branding The Essence of New ZealandThursday, Mar 8, 2001
Richmond Meats has made a strong claim in the past few weeks that they are food producers - not meat
This is a significant shift in attitude by a major player in an industry that has been reluctant to
change from old practices. The old practice of not owning the product in the market.
The most significant component of such a shift in attitude is how producers will become part of that
shift in attitude and how they will be profitably included in the new 'food' industry. .
The news item below illustrates the complexity of the task that the marketers of the old meat companies,
now re-born food companies will have, when determining what the customer will be wanting and
how to integrate producers into the equation.
Analysis of the the actual sales trends by a major US supermarket chain must worry proponents of the
low fat - no fat and natural - organic products who have claimed theirsas an unlimited market.
Is this an early warning that so called healthy/organic foods will not command a premium and not establish
a significant share of the market for all food sales?
That markets' acceptance of irradiation as easily as it currently accepts pasteurisation of milk shows
food safety is high in the consumers mind and that is perhaps an unexpected outcome. Plus the safety
assurance demanded is more biased to the control of damaging food born bacteria such as e coli
and listeria rather than concerns for 'chemical free' foods.
The word 'quality' is rapidly becoming a useless descriptive term for food as it now seems to mean whatever
any lobby wishes it to mean.
There is a growing reliance on the term 'clean and green' as a description of the qualities of New Zealand
products. But it too is a term that has been stolen and probably bastardized; by Australian
exporters. Also it has suffered severe denigration by the green lobby in New Zealand who do not see
NZ food as clean and green and have told the world so.
However the US supermarket survey below surprisingly indicates that markets acceptance of the ultimate
assurance of food quality as is defined by the word 'Kosher'.
It is time for NZ food producers to re-define, brand and promote the overall qualities that uniquely
represents New Zealand foods and wines.
Without such a quality brand to stand in the market, like the word 'kosher', we the producers, will
be led up many expensive blind alleys. Particularly if as seems to be the intent of or current crop
of politicians we should expect words like 'organic' or 'chemical free' to describe NZ food and
stand the scrutiny of a critical consumer.
Producers are a significant part of the production and marketing of quality foods. It is time for farmers
to be included in the planning of the new food industries as they push to be food marketers
rather than wholesalers.
Quality should not be defined by airy-fairy nonsense but in terms that the consumer learns to trust
and standards producers can produce to.
Producers must have an opinion on that.