Meat Industry StrategyFriday, Feb 2, 2001
Meat New Zealand has set out in its annual report some noble intentions in the sort of resounding words
that may in the past have roused an army of illiterate serfs to march into battle on behalf of
the failing empire.
The intention of Meat New Zealand is commendable but there seems to be too many gaps in the strategy
let alone the identification and execution of tactics for levy payers to be confident that a collective
approach will make any contribution to better farm gate returns.
Cynics would suggest that elimination of both the meat levy and Meat NZ might in fact find future returns
to farmers no different in relative terms to returns enjoyed under Meat New Zealand's banner.
The privately or corporately owned meat processing companies have for a century and a half maintained
a special direct relationship with producers. The gradual breaking down of this special relationship
between the farmer and his buyer may have occurred a little over the years as meat industry deregulation
occurred but it has always retained the form of a gentlemanly love hate relationship common
This gentlemanly relationship shows in the ease with which the processing industry has been able to
influence and direct the allocation of levy funds for the marketing of their privately owned product
for their own ends.
Fund allocation for marketing implies the ownership of the benefit be it branding, market share or market
access. Without the creation and retention of this future 'benefit' the allocation of levy funds
is simply a sale of meat at a discount.
The new leadership of Meat New Zealand has a formidable task. If they are to remain in office they need
to be successful. Smooth public relations puffery will not of its self create confidence amongst
What is required is a reality to be applied in defining industry objectives against resources, a plan
for execution, and definition of how success will be measured for the benefit of the producer -
not whether the processors and traders are happy with their lot.
Even illiterate serfs know that when the generals become remote from the battle there are sure to be
casualties amongst the serfs even as the generals fall on their swords.