Indigenous branding creating an emotional connection.

Executive Summary

Global customers are increasingly demanding authentic products and services, and indigenous branding has been recognized as a natural fit to deliver on this. Global trends observe a shift away from traditionally produced premium foods to more sustainable alternatives. This consumers is increasingly concerned of where their product comes from, the impact growing this product has had on the environment, that these people and lands are being looked after and what the indigenous stamp means.

Indigenous branding creates huge opportunity for Maori who consider that land is a living and breathing thing and part of your identity as Maori. It is an inter-generational culture with a 150 year plan, “we are a whakapapa, we are both the past, and the future.”  Maori need to wrap this up in a meaningful way as resonates with the consumer to make an emotional connection, and the whole company needs to align with these brand values.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate two things, 1) what a consumer expects when presented with an indigenous product. 2) How do we give confidence that this product is genuine. This research is carried in two parts. The first is a review of literature published between the 2005 and 2013 period and key themes that come through from this. Part two is a case study evaluating four successful Maori businesses regarding the work they are carrying out around consumer expectations and authenticity.

There was a considerable amount of literature published between 2005 and 2013 regarding indigenous branding and how it could be used to create a point of difference. A key finding of this review is that Maori branding focused on presenting a product that encompassed a set of values as important to the Maori business. The case studies determined that this focus has since been reversed, and is now focused on expressing value as determined by the consumer.

The recommendations of this report are that further research is required to position an indigenous experience to make the consumer feel good and create an emotional connection, and Maori brands need to collaborate more to ensure the market insight work is done to avoid risking market position.

Indigenous Branding – Creating an emotional connection – Ashleigh Phillips

Improving communication of primary industries research, science, technology and innovation.

Executive Summary

By the year 2020, over $1.6 billion of New Zealand taxpayer money will be invested in science and innovation per annum. What share will Primary Industries have of this investment?

“With the coming of the fourth industrial revolution – fundamental change to our daily personal and professional lives from the combination of physical, digital and biological technologies – the primary sector will find itself at the center of change.”

Ian Proudfoot, Global Head of Agribusiness, KPMG 2016

The aim of this project was to understand what the benefits might be of improving communication of government – funded Research, Science, Technology and Innovation related to the New Zealand Primary Industries and how this could be achieved. stakeholders from a wide range of areas in the science and innovation ecosystem were interviewed and fin dings were related to literature and initiatives already underway in New Zealand. Benefits of improving communication include:

  • Attracting science and innovation talent to the primary industries and building future capability.
  • Positive engagement with the public ensuring social licence to operate.
  • Building New Zealand’s international reputation as an innovative country – to attract skilled migrants, build partnerships with global experts, and be seen as a trusted producer of safe, premium food and fibre products
  • Improved cross-sector collaboration and learning.
  • Faster and more advanced innovation in industry from research, science and technology uptake To achieve sustainable growth in New Zealand Primary Industries, attracting and retaining a diversity of talented people is critical.

Recommendations from this report for key stakeholder groups include:


  • Improve the New Zealand Story Business Toolkit information on science and innovation.
  • Government funding agencies could publicise their science and innovation investments more.
  • Include a section on the quality of the communication plan in assessment criteria for government. science funding

Research Organisations:

  • National Science Challenges could increase their focus on engaging school children in science and innovation (and the government could incentivise or reward them for doing this)
  • Universities and Crown Research Institutes could include positive public engagement in their promotion criteria for staff (likely if the government funding criteria changes).

Primary Industries:

  • Industry associations or businesses could develop more graduate programmes with a science and innovation focus to create career pathways for attracting talented young people.
  • Businesses could sponsor employees and their research providers to visit schools to talk about science and innovation being invested in and the future career opportunities in their sector.
  • Industry could investigate how to collaborate on opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution.

Improving Communication of Primary Industries Research, Science, Technology and Innovation – Kylie Phillips

What is the most profitable way to harvest asparagus in New Zealand.


As a relatively new asparagus grower, in the Waikato region of New Zealand, I am interested in exploring opportunities within this industry. The harvesting costs in an asparagus business are a significant portion of the total expenditure, so any efficiency gains would provide a direct contribution to profitability.

There are currently several different methods for harvesting asparagus, all of which involve manual picking of the spears. This project looked at which of the current methods was the most profitable for the New Zealand asparagus industry. Variations include paying staff a ‘per hour’ rate, a ‘per kg’ rate, or combinations of both. Picking methods vary from individuals walking along a row in their own time, harvesting into a bin or container carried on their person; to a team of pickers walking behind a tractor with a 20 metre boom, loaded with crates that they place the spears into as they pick.

The highly manual nature of the harvesting raised the question of what automation options have been considered or attempted in the past, as well as what the potential for this may be in the future.

The interviews held with existing asparagus growers provided a wealth of information regarding the picking process, as well as the potential for automation. The lowest cost system currently in use amongst the interviewees involves paying the pickers $0.87/kg through the entire season. The next lowest cost involved paying pickers a ‘per kg’ rate that varied from $0.85/kg at the start of the season, through to $1.20/kg at the end of the season when volumes were lower. The most costly system paid the pickers $18.00/hr, plus a $0.20/kg bonus for all ‘Class One’ graded asparagus. These costs were adjusted to reflect the wastage through the grading process, and therefore provide a more accurate actual cost per kilogram of saleable product. The results then saw the lowest net cost at $1.31/kg.

Although this assessment clearly showed the lowest cost, the determination of their relative profitability from a long term perspective was much more subjective. This was because each business had a number of unique considerations to incorporate into their decision making process around harvesting costs, for example the age and productivity of a block, access to labour and the typical profile of the labourers. The interviewee’s perspective on the potential for automation was explored and their opinions varied widely, from highly unlikely to occur, to highly likely to occur.

The potential for further study regarding innovative harvesting techniques, by incorporating automation, is significant. The challenge will be in balancing the needs of the growers for a cost effective and easy to use solution, with the research and development costs required to provide that as an appropriate solution.

What is the most profitable way to harvest asparagus in New Zealand – Tim Van De Molen

Farm business strategic planning: A sheep and beef perspective

Executive Summary

Farming livestock in New Zealand is becoming increasingly exposed to global and national economic, social, environmental and regulatory trends. Going forward there is increasing pressure from the public and consumers to preserve or ideally improve soil health, water quality and biodiversity, while ensuring that the food we produce is safe and nutritious, animals are treated ethically, and we are reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Pressure is building towards significant change from the current situation. Sheep and beef farming is not immune to this pressure.

What will sheep and beef farming look like in 2050; what are the challenges and opportunities farm businesses and communities will face between then and now?

As a farming business, we need to look at where our farming operation is now and make some decisions about where we would like it to be in the future. We need to lift our level of awareness and contemplate how our farm might operate – what it might produce – we need a whole farm business strategy.

There needs to be a definitive “picture” and agreement of how the business owners view success. We then need look at how we best optimise the resources – land, people, animals and infrastructure to achieve that success.

Having a clearly defined business strategy acts like a road map in times of challenge and is an important tool for any business to navigate their way.

This research sets out to define what is strategy, it looks at a snapshot of how strategy or long-term planning is performed in sheep and beef farming businesses today. It makes suggestions as to the key components of strategic planning and proposes a basic template for businesses considering their long-term future.

The motivation to undertake this research assumes that better awareness of the future, and planning for the future is a positive action that will better enable individuals, communities and the wider farming industry to respond to change proactively. It will allow us to seize opportunities that may otherwise have been missed and to sense and manage threats in a more timely fashion.

One of the benefits of strategic planning is a shift in mindset away from issue-specific discussions towards more holistic and long-term planning around the future of farming. With increased awareness and longer term thinking I believe that our industry can evolve and thrive under the care of future generations.

Farm Business strategic planning – A sheep and beef perspective – a wider opportunity – Anna Nelson

Stepping up to take a step back.

Executive Summary

“It’s time I got out of the cowshed. What is the best way to do this?”
Questions similar to this have often come up in my conversations with farmers. The information available tends to be fragmented, focuses on processes and procedures, and more often refers to family succession. While this information is relevant, more targeted information specific to farm owners employing sharemilkers for the first time is harder to find.

I undertook a literature review focusing on effective leadership in general then I refined my reading to specifically focus on leadership and governance in farming situations.

To gain an understanding of the topic from different perspectives, I carried out 9 semi- structured interviews, with three rural professionals, three dairy farm owners and three sharemilkers. I used the qualitative research method of thematic analysis to identify common themes that were identified as important for a successful change in a farming business structure.

As a result of reading relevant literature on leadership, and interviewing farmers and rural professionals who have experienced transitional farming situations, I believe there are four steps to consider before making such a change to your farming business.

The first step involves taking the time to consider why you want to take a step back and what life is going to look like once you have.

The second step is choosing the right people, who share in your vision, to become part of your farming business. It came through clearly in the interviews that attitude and compatibility are the very important.

Step three is about building a working relationship that is collaborative and long lasting. The ability to see things from the other person’s perspective and strong communication skills develops trust which then helps to facilitate the difficult task of delegating decision making.

The final step covers the advice, training, policies and procedures that are vital to ensuring clarity of roles and a smooth transition from day to day farm management to a governance role.

In my opinion to take a step back you need to step up. This involves becoming an effective leader and being surrounded by good people who share your vision.

Stepping up to take a step back – Shirley kissick

Validating the “brand” for New Zealand’s target dairy consumers in China.

Executive Summary

The New Zealand dairy industry, like many other primary industries, fuelled by market volatility is at a pseudo crossroads in its evolution. Does it look to secure its past dominance in global dairy commodity trade and optimise its investment into established commodity infrastructure? Or does it forego past heritage and investments, adopting a more singular focused strategic migration into revenue dominance from consumer value-add exports and secure the perceived provenance value of our dairy products?

Anecdotally, the view of the majority of industry stakeholders is a push for the latter. New Zealand’s dominant dairy exporter, Fonterra has made a genuine contribution in this direction to date, but by its own acknowledgement, still has a long way to go7. Other dairy exporters are now re-aligning strategies to secure their share of the potential prize and as a result, considerable media and industry discussion has evolved on what needs to be done and the urgency behind the industry need.
I saw an opportunity to understand this subject better and apply a critical analysis of existing research, market participation and industry support initiatives to understand just what focus our industry needs in order to brand our products successfully.

China is an export market that has dominated export revenues for the New Zealand dairy industry in recent years and its demand for dairy with attributes like those associated with New Zealand is forecast to continue to grow17. Fonterra have recently stated the strategic importance of the Chinese consumer market within its strategic goals7. With growing attention and market penetration within China from competing dairy export nations, there is no better time for New Zealand to form a plan, which includes identifying a target market.

A review of existing literature and research identified that the current Chinese dairy market considers food safety, freshness and authenticity when making their consumer choices for food and beverage consumables. Existing New Zealand exporter marketing had not challenged the market with anything other than satisfying these key consumer needs.

The report proposes that the target market should be the emerging upper- middle-class demographic within Chinese consumer society. These consumers had been found to be young, adventurous, well-travelled, independent thinking, while maintaining traditional Chinese benevolence and health/wellbeing values20. They display much of the same behaviours observed within their western “lifestyle consumer” peers and combined with an empowerment to now establish a generation identity, are likely to be attracted to a brand purpose rather than more sterile functional attributes.

Existing literature points toward an opportunity for either the New Zealand industry as-a-whole or individual exporters to develop a story to support product differentiation. This has been partially accomplished through the national NZ Story Group and quality assurance platforms such as inSight, but to date the story does not appear to be compelling enough to draw the market demand and premiums the industry seeks.

Past research such as that by Lincoln University’s AERU has identified generic Chinese consumer feedback on the importance of many of New Zealand’s credence attributes but fell short of being specific to dairy, the identified target market, and did not challenge survey respondents to make trade-off selections to simulate the actual rapid product-purchase process. I conducted a quantitative survey of over 500 upper-middle-class Chinese consumers using basic milk powder as a sample product and asked participants to prioritise factors I predicted would determine their purchase decision.

The results confirmed that historically understood consumer needs of Food Safety and Freshness still dominated consumer priorities, but that attitudes towards genetic modification had changed to a more negative perception. New Zealand’s traditional credence attributes of environmental stewardship and Animal Welfare best practice continued to rank as important but not critical and that what value these attributes did provide, stemmed from an association with health benefits.

It appears that the “NZ Story” New Zealanders are familiar with and associate much of their industry pride with, is either not fully understood by the target market or does not resonate. It was identified that only those consumers that associated environmental attributes with food safety benefits provided a willingness to pay a premium. My recommendation for future research is to better understand the factors within the potential NZ story that will engage the interest of these target pioneering consumers, thus creating a value behind a desire to be associated with New Zealand.

There certainly needs to be energy directed at establishing a robust channel of current market intelligence within both the Chinese retail and e- commerce markets across all aspects of consumer needs and attitudes. Such information will need to feed brand development and future functional innovation focuses.

A word of caution though, as it may just be a matter of time before this ever-modernising and westernising consumer demographic simply “catch up” with their western peers and evolve an appreciation (outside of personal health benefits) for our existing ethical product value all on their own.

Validating the “brand” for New Zealand’s target dairy consumers in China – Grant Jackson

Are rural co-operatives still relevant in New Zealand.

Executive Summary

This report was aimed at discussing and presenting the ideas surrounding the future of the co-operative business structure in rural New Zealand. This was achieved through a review of relevant literature and surveying key co-operative members and employees to gather their opinions on how they saw the co-operative structures relevance today and in the future.

A brief summation of four key rural co-operatives was expanded upon throughout to build a picture of why these entities operated the way they do. The author found that all co-operatives researched had very clear business values and a simple vision. All surveyed were of the opinion that these values and visions were critical in the discussion of relevance both today and in the future and that any move away from these could lead to the demise of the business structure.

The grassroots and highly visible nature of the New Zealand farmer lends itself to the co- operative structure nicely. Farmers in New Zealand make up a very small percentage of the population but are responsible for the delivery of a large proportion of export revenues. The collaborative approach of co-operatives enables the New Zealand farmer to be represented to the wider public without fear of standing alone. As such it is the opinion of the author that the co- operative business structure in rural New Zealand remains as relevant today as it was when the first rural NZ co-operatives formed in the 1800’s

Are rural cooperatives still relevant in New Zealand – Alex Murry

Viability of establishing a sheep dairy platform on North Canterbury dry land.

Executive Summary

Is now the time for bovine dominance in the milk market to be challenged? There are variable and questionable milk alternatives more readily available both locally and abroad and our New Zealand sheep dairy history would suggest the current spike in popularity will be short-lived. I disagree. In my opinion New Zealand is the ideal location to develop this budding industry. We have the operational know-how, the geography and access to reliable water sources, a tourism market that opens our primary sector to the world, a developing pool of ovine milking genetics suitable to the New Zealand environment, capacity for diversification as we investigate change in land use opportunities and a hunger to pursue an alternative farming vision with learned failures of other ventures a source of inspiration.

“We believe that strong science, a supportive Government and industry solidarity are essential for the future success of sheep dairying in New Zealand” (Blue River Dairy)

Sheep Dairy is an industry that has experienced two substantial ‘false starts’, in both the 1970’s and 1990’s. One overarching factor was market fragility which proved too challenging and the detriment of the industry at the time. What can we learn from our chequered history? To determine a sound market before we establish supply, mitigate financial risk with comprehensive process of due diligence, a slow and steady approach to ensure long term viability and fundamental is collaboration within the sheep dairy community.

The aim of this project was to investigate viability of establishing a sheep dairy platform on North Canterbury dry land as a profitable land use alternative.

Key findings as a result of this research are that alignment of the sheep dairy community is critical to our success long term, honesty with information is vital and that although dry land sheep dairy in North Canterbury may be ambitious – nothing is impossible!

Viability of establishing a sheep dairy platform on North Canterbury dry land – Kate Boyd

Exploring the opportunity of a holistic on-farm quality assurance program for the beef industry.

My project has investigated some of the current beef industry quality assurance (QA) programs which provide evidence based marketing tools to the livestock industry. The case studies have allowed me to identify key aspects of these programs which would be useful to utilize when designing a holistic QA program for the beef industry. The key recommendations arising from the case studies include:
  1. The evaluate whether of how the industry could simplify the QA systems in the future using an online portal
  2. Key aspects which should be added to the industries program
  3. The benefits of having voluntary modules available to producers and processes that can be utilized as demand emerges
  4. The need to producer input in the development of new modules to ensure they are relevant and region specific
  5. The benefits of using a ‘goal setting’ component to QA systems
  6. The ability for QA systems to provide a communication tool to encourage research adoption outcomes to the industry.
I have also explored areas that may need to be added to the current industry systems to take full advantage of the marketing and educational opportunities a holist QA system can provide.

What Value do commercial farmers place on their animal genetics.

Executive Summary

New Zealand’s animal genetics industry started when two sheep were imported, and they both died within four days, (NZ Rural Press Ltd, 2007). Since then, with the expertise of passionate breeders, scientists, farmers and advisers it is has significantly expanded and will continue to do so. By 2021, animal genetics is expected to be a USA$5.50 billion dollar industry, (PRNewswire, 2016). International markets especially, are taking advantages of the incredible advances in genetic technologies that enable increased efficiency in breeding genetically superior animals. In New Zealand, we must take advantage of the genetically superior stud stock that have been especially bred for our environment to allow farmers and the industry as a whole, to reach our production targets but do so in a sustainable way and with ‘value add’. To do this, we must insure that the ‘value’ of genetics is recognised by our New Zealand farmers as a significant player in the agricultural system.

The question was asked “is there a gap in the understanding of farmers, when it comes to their animal genetics?” and the answer was yes. This research attempts to understand why there is this gap by interviewing farmers, industry professionals and advisers. Farmer behaviour has been aligned with answers to the interviews and both the livestock in New Zealand, and New Zealand farmers have been described under the concept that their performance is a function of their genotype, or their goals and objectives, and the environment that they live in.

There is a range of performance of New Zealand farmers in their farm systems overall, but also in their understanding when it comes to genetics. Some reasons for this are more obvious, like the fact that you can’t “see” genetics, which makes it difficult to comprehend, or the fact that there is actually no pipeline for delivering simple and aligned genetic information out to the commercial sector. The not so obvious reasons can be understood by further analysing the goals and objectives of farmers, but also the social pressures that they face when striving to be a ‘good’ farmer. An animal is more likely to be judged by the way it looks, compared to its genetic potential, which will be a direct indication of how good of a farmer the owner is.

Recommendations have been made to the industry, to the advisers and to the farmers. There needs to be collaboration across the genetics “players” to provide breeders and commercial farmers with quality information that is transparent and has integrity. Farmer objectives need to be better understood, so solutions can be tailored and aligned. Both farmers and their advisers need to be more critically aware about animal genetics, in terms of what they are buying and where they are buying it from. The story of animal genetics needs to be told and it is performance that needs to be made trendy.

In order to understand, and appreciate the value of their livestock genetics, commercial farmers need to be individually understood, and they need to be empowered with the information to make a decision, which fits their individual objective.

What Value do Commercial Farmers Place on their Animal Genetics – Johanna Scott