OPINION PIECE: Malcolm Bailey
The New Zealand agrifood sector continues to grow, evolve, and diversify. Not only should this increasingly diverse landscape be embraced, it is vital that this trajectory continues for our country to prosper. The Government’s Business Growth Agenda recognises the enormous potential for further growth and spells out the need for another 50,000 employees in the agricultural and horticultural industries to boost exports from 30 per cent to 40 per cent of GDP by 2025. Engaging more young people and women in the agrifood sector is vital to achieving this goal.
Ian Proudfoot, KPMG Global Head of Agribusiness, says leaders in the agrifood industry need open minds. “In guiding their organisation towards a prosperous future, they must be prepared to pull up the anchors that have tied them to the deep traditions inherent within a conservative industry.”
An open mind, however, is only the first step. There must be information and creativity to fill it and then action. This is what New Zealand AgriFood Investment Week is all about.
Those of us in the business of food can never feel like we are in our comfort zones – the way things have been is not the way things will always be. Instead we need to make sure farmers and everyone along the value chain can deliver what the consumer wants – for that is how businesses prosper.
Business success is not an end in itself. But to make our communities more vibrant and to help people in New Zealand who are struggling we need to grow the “economic pie”. A growing and vibrant agrifood sector is key to this and meeting the Business Growth Agenda goals that are essential to New Zealand’s future.
We also need to focus on what makes New Zealand food special and how capacity can be increased, plus promote the industry as a vibrant investment destination.
Each component of the agrifood industry is unworkable without the others. What leaves the farm gate is often unusable until it is processed and packaged into a product consumers want. Consumers and products need to be connected, and science, innovation and research have an important part to play along the way. This is the molecule to mouth value chain.
Farmers are well aware of the need to continuously improve the environmental sustainability of their production and are doing so. New Zealand’s agricultural sector is very efficient and our carbon footprint per kilogram of food produced is low, yet our quality is high. We have a great story to tell and NZAgInvest creates the platform for us to do this.
Manawatu is the ideal place to host NZ AgriFood Investment Week. Not only is the region home to large agri events like the Central Districts Field Days, but also New Zealand’s number one university for agriculture, Massey University, Crown research institutes AgResearch and Plant & Food Research, the Riddet Institute (a Centre of Research Excellence), commercial players like Fonterra and Prepared Foods Processing, and the food innovation gateway FoodHQ.
More Information on Malcolm Bailey:
Malcolm Bailey, who farms in the Manawatu region, is the former national president of Federated Farmers and served on the Fonterra board 2004-2016. He is also a director of a number of other companies including Westpac New Zealand Limited, and the Red Meat Profit Partnership. Malcolm is the Chair of Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) a founding partner of New Zealand AgriFood Investment Week. In this role Malcolm also takes on the position of Chair for the NZAgInvest founding partner group.