The Future of Trade

21 Jul 2017

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At the recent Horticulture Conference in Tauranga, Dr Roland Fumasi –vice president, senior analyst and manager for Rabobank’s RaboResearch’s Food and Agribusiness group – gave an insightful presentation into where New Zealand will be trading in the future. 

The potential in Asia, and not just China, for export growth is relatively well known. But what Roland’s address did was put some hard facts against this potential. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, New Zealand earns premium prices in export markets, as we can distinguish our produce on the basis of quality, food safety, shelf-life and taste. Therefore, we need to sell our produce to people who can afford to pay for it, generally referred to as the “middle class”. By 2030, two-thirds of the world’s middle class will be in Asia. This is up from 28% in 2009. This highlights why we focus our exports on Asia.

The success of the fruit and vegetable exports carving out market share and earning premium prices is simply giving consumers what they want and therefore, what they will pay for. Three critical consumer trends were identified by Roland that will need to be addressed to maintain premium earnings. First, convenience is as important as taste to consumers. To date, our export focus has been primarily on taste and quality. But with the middle class, convenience is becoming a very important feature.  Food that is easy to prepare and to eat is what consumers will pay for.  Secondly, consumers have values they place on the grower and the entire food supply chain. Social good, environmental sustainability, and fair treatment for all employees in the entire supply chain are what the middle class require. Third, consumers want total transparency so that they can make their own assessment about the values of the growers and the food supply chain. We have to provide consumers with the information they want so that they want to buy our food. In short, we have to tell a compelling story, as consumers demand 100% perfection from the growers and suppliers of their food.

So Roland gave us the recipe for continued exporting success. The challenge is for us to now meet those challenges to continue our spectacular growth.

During his visit to New Zealand, Roland was interviewed about his presentation by The Country, which you can listen to here

- Mike Chapman, CEO