Red Meat Sector Conference: challenged and inspired

Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum of New ZealandThe fourth annual Red Meat Sector Conference has just taken place in Wellington.

Over 290 delegates attended the event held at Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum to hear about the challenges and opportunities ahead for the red meat sector.

The programme was designed to challenge and inspire and continue to drive the themes of the Red Meat Sector Strategy (RMSS) – coordinated in-market behaviour, aligned procurement and adoption of best practice.

Political focus welcomed delegates

Held in Wellington during an election year, politics was an obvious focus for the 2014 conference. A multi-party political debate ‘The Future of New Zealand’s Red Meat Industry’ took place in the Grand Hall at Parliament Buildings at the opening of the conference, featuring MPs from the major parties, ably facilitated by the Hugo Group’s Colin James. James also shared his insights on the Monday about what the political landscape might look like after 20 September and who the sheep and beef sector needs to influence to create the best environment for doing business. Hamburg-Sud Welcome Cocktail Party, Red Meat Sector Conference 2014 held in the Grand Hall, Parliament Buildings, Wellington. Photo B+LNZ

After the debate, delegates then moved into the cocktail and networking function, sponsored by Hamburg Sud and hosted by the Minister for Primary Industries Hon Nathan Guy.

Strong speaker line-up covered trends

The strong line-up of other speakers on the Monday of the conference talked about trends impacting on the red meat industry (more detail next issue).

  • Richard Brown of European research agency GIRA, updated delegates on the latest trends in the international meat industry. “While 2013 was a year of great caution, 2014 is a positive year for those working in the meat industry,” he commented.
  • Andrew Burtt, Beef + Lamb NZ’s chief economist, assessed progress on a domestic level against the Red Meat Sector Strategy.
  • Lindy Nelson, the executive director of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust, talked about the importance of raising business skills among New Zealand farming women to assist in raising farm profitability. The trust is focusing on workshops and training courses to upskill women.
  • Mary Boyd, corporate network director for the Economist Intelligence Unit in China gave insights into the opportunities in that market. She talked about the social changes underway in China, including  urbanisation, and the rapid move to online retailing.
  • Martyn Dunne, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) chief executive,made his first speaking appearance at RMSC and commended the MIA and B+LNZ’s efforts to bring a sector-wide focus to the fore. He talked about MPI’s commitment to supporting the red meat industry.
  • Colin James, managing director of the Hugo Group, offered his thoughts on the political scene heading towards the election: National vs Labour and Greens. He thinks that a third term for the current government is likely, but if there is a change of government, it would be “quite a different government” with the Labour Party signalling its intention to be more active in the economy.
  • Dr Jan Wright, parliamentary commissioner for the environment, focused on the sector’s environmental responsibilities. Her presentation focused on her most recent report ‘Water quality in New Zealand: land use and nutrient pollution’, which looked at the two nutrient pollutants in New Zealand waterways nitrogen and phosphorus.
  • Professor Shaun Hendy, from Auckland University and author of ‘Get off the Grass’ looked at the Innovation EcoSystem.
  • Luke Chandler, Rabobank’s general manager of food and agribusiness research and advisory for Oceania, outlined what he saw as the competitive challenges for the meat industry. These include emerging market demand, market access and competitiveness between proteins.
  • Craig Ellison, a professional director who is deputy chair of NIWA and a Trustee of Poutama Trust among others, updated delegates on the latest developments for Tuhona Whenua, the Māori Red Meat Coalition.

Copies of all of the presentations are available at the Red Meat Sector website: www.redmeatsector.co.nz.

Gala Dinner

Following the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Networking Drinks, held in Te Papa’s Oceania Room, the Minister for Primary Industries gave the keynote speech at the Maersk Gala Dinner, held in the Te Papa foyer. Gala Dinner guests enjoyed a delicious beef and lamb alternate drop down menu for the main course from the talented B+LNZ ambassador chef Ryan Tattersall of Cobar Restaurant in Wellington. The impressive options – Slow-cooked lamb rump and pressed lamb neck or prime Angus beef fillet, braised shin and marrow – were paired respectively with two beers from Moa Brewery, Pale Ale and Five Hop.

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This article has appeared in Food NZ magazine (August/September 2014) and is reproduced here with permission.

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