Making Business Modern

Posted on May 29, 2019

The headline was the theme for the 2019 NZPPI annual conference in Christchurch this year. What does this really mean and by just observing how fast the pace of change in the world today is, the question was “What Does Modern Look Like”? We attended to find out what this could be, and the following is our takeaway from the time.

The focus of the conference was to look at the science and innovation opportunities within our reach. The event was truly motivating and eye opening as to what is commercially possible today that would have been moon beams off in our thinking just five years ago. The pace of change is so fast in areas such as robotics, plant and soil science, consumer activity and the Internet of Things. The conference covered a scope reaching out to food production as well as plant production.

NZPPI is the peak industry body for plant producers and industry partners. NZPPI has coined the phrase that “We Are the Genesis of All Things Green”. The whole horticulture industry and a large part of the vegetable industry starts with someone growing the seedlings and plants. That’s NZPPI. The national Agriculture/Horticulture industry is a 7.5-billion-dollar export collective. This then retails globally at around 42 billion dollars. Plant producers in NZ are part of a very important global niche economy and we need to be focused on protecting and expanding this industry.

The first speaker of the conference was the Hon Damien O’Conner, the Minister of Agriculture, Biosecurity and Food Safety. Damien set a global picture of how important the agricultural sector of NZ was in trade agreements. He also expressed the current challenges we have with biosecurity and the pressure this brings. Biosecurity measures in NZ are only going to tighten and as plant producers we need to keep up if we are going to trade freely. Labour shortages were discussed as it has been very topical for the fruit picking season this year. The response was for plant producers just to pay higher wages and we will attract more labour. At the end of his session he kindly gave us 15 minutes of questions and answers. To be very frank, this current government has not got the answers that we are wanting; hence all the more reason for ALL plant producers to get right in behind NZPPI so we can have a realistic voice in Wellington…sign up now if you haven’t already.

Moving on quickly to a mad and fascinating scientist from Plant and Food Research named Andrew Allan (complete with an excellent sense of humour). Andrew is a truly passionate person in his field of research and what he showed us was mind blowing. He was giving us a very high-level paper on Impact Breeding and Genomics. The ability to find and edit genes within plants now is advanced beyond where they thought commercially possible five years ago. Andrew was explaining to us that he can tell us what the science may be like in two years’ time but not five years as the advancements are so rapid; and exciting. Andrew helpfully educated us on the difference between genetic modification GM and what they can do now in gene editing, (a natural process). His work in the apple industry is very interesting: also … He also told us how uneducated and blind we are as NZers. 87% of people interviewed in NZ said that they wouldn’t eat food that had DNA in it! All food has DNA. We as a nation are fast falling behind other countries as we have locked in ideology as to genetic alteration and current laws restrict us developing commercially whereby the same plant in Australia is not classed as GM. Unfortunately, some of the time in NZ, science is not put above emotion and emotion wins. We need the expand our understanding in the advances of natural genetic breeding processes

The facts are that by 2050 there will be 10 billion 10,000,000,000 people on earth to feed every day. NZ and us as plant producers are going to play a part in providing this food. I think that we need to seriously look at our laws and trade agreements to leverage ourselves into the best niche markets that we can. NZ is missing out on opportunities right now and will fall behind if we don’t drop our fixed thinking. NZ clean and green cannot be taken for granted and we are now competing on a global stage for attention.

Another staggering fact is that 1/3 of all food on earth is wasted each day and 1/2 of fresh produce! Did you know that 825,000,000 people went hungry last night? One common reason for food waste is the aging population and the lack of labour in the right places to harvest the food grown. The greatest resource on earth could be available labour. How many people could be employed harvesting this food that currently have no opportunity for work? The answer is millions of people with no job that would love to work.

Robotics Plus in based in Tauranga showed how they as a company are internationally at the leading edge of the robotic advances in the horticulture sector to help solve the labour shortages:

Ian Proudfoot is the Global Head of Agribusiness within the global firm KPMG, and lucky for us he is based in NZ. The insight he shared with us was truly welcoming and the world of opportunity for NZ is massive if we can embrace the change and move quickly. 10 – 12% of all human activity on earth is involved in agriculture. We are part of this huge number…and it is a huge number; 800,000,000 people!

FACT: More people own a smartphone than a toothbrush! 5G is happening and the powerful internet of things is everywhere…what does this mean?

This means that the world of commerce has changed for ever. We are now believed to be entering the 4th industrial revolution; The Global Agrarian Revolution Whether we like it or not, we are now living in a world with Generation Z or Generation Voice. Opinion: Looking to Generation Z for the future of food | Newshub

The world is being disrupted. Until very recently the retailer dictated the market values and terms of trade. Now it is the consumer who is the power broker. This is a massive shift and values are no longer captured in the “traditional” way. Good Food or Bad Food as an example is not our choice to make. The consumer will dictate this. The sustainability conversation is now over. It has been and gone and we either are sustainable or not.

The 2020’s are thought to be the decade of “Wellness”. Change is coming. Food is being looked at as the new pharmaceutical. NZ has a huge opportunity to provide a key part of this.

So, what does modern look like? The future for plant producers in NZ is very exciting. Science and robotics are advancing exponentially to assist in production. New Zealand has a niche role in the supply of food to the world.

So where does Kauri Park fit in this? The growth of global population means that Horticulture/Agriculture will have to produce more food on less land in far greater sustainable methods. With this goes our responsibility to look after the environment for the future generations which Kauri Park is committed to. The need to protect our waterways and marginal landscapes will come under greater scrutiny as we sell NZ on the world stage as clean and green.

We are The Genesis of All Things Green.