Red meat sector ‘streetfighting’ not a good look with our young leaders

KPMG Agribusiness Agenda 2015 Vol2The primary sector’s young leaders are dismayed by the ‘street fighting’ they perceive is happening between New Zealand’s red meat companies.

KPMG’s latest Agribusiness Agenda thought-leading document  was put out last week. The Agribusiness Agenda 2015 volume 2 – Emerging Leaders sought the views of the primary sector’s emerging leaders, surveying over 50 young leaders at a one-day summit at the Chrysalis Innovation Studio in Auckland earlier in the year. The emerging leaders were asked to share their vision for New Zealand Agribusiness in 2035.

It found that the up-and-coming leaders of New Zealand’s primary sector are frustrated by the lack of collaboration between primary industry players.

“They cannot understand why current leaders are not collaborating in meaningful way – and combining their resources for the benefit of everyone across research and development, marketing, processing or distribution,” explains Justine Fitzmaurice, a senior manager at KPMG who advises agribusiness companies and one of the report’s authors. “Instead, we have companies continuing to work in silos. The message we got from young leaders is that they are exasperated by the duplication and sheer waste of it all,” she says.

“Emerging leaders believe that existing leaders, particularly those in like industries, need to shut the door on the past and learn to trust each other. For example, they are dismayed by the ‘street fighting’ that currently occurs among companies in New Zealand’s red meat sector.

“They want to see us working together to gain market advantage against our international competitors; not competing against each other to needlessly drive prices down for everyone in New Zealand.”

As Julia Jones explains the generation of under-30s view collaboration as a natural way of doing business.

“Collaboration is their modus operandi … they’ve gone through an education system that’s based on achieving outcomes in groups. For them, it’s just a normal way of working and they believe it should be part of everyday business.”

One of the guest speakers at the summit, Professor Kaj Storbacka, reinforced the need for New Zealand’s primary sector to develop a collaborative strategy. He advocates the concept of market shaping; which is essentially creating your desired market, rather than following an existing one.

“Competitive strategy is not the silver bullet,” Professor Storbacka told the group. “Those who want to shape markets need to engage in a collaborative way.”

Other key findings from the Agribusiness Agenda:

  • The emerging leaders called for New Zealand to reach a consensus on the use of genetic modification (GM). While opinions were divided on whether the best strategy was to embrace GM or be GM-free – all agreed a decision was needed urgently.
  • Emerging leaders want to see a single cohesive ‘NZ Inc’ brand that can be used by all New Zealand-produced products that meet its accreditation criteria.
  • New Zealand companies should be gaining insights into the needs of the 2035 consumer – using a range of social and scientific disciplines – instead of conducting traditional market research into the consumer of today.
  • The use of flexible or modular processing plants has the potential to create new efficiencies across our processing sector, the young leaders believe.

The top five current priorities for emerging leaders were maintaining world class biosecurity (matching the top priority for existing leaders), innovation systems with customer businesses, clear market signals, high quality trade agreements and the telling of New Zealand’s provenance stories.

Emerging young leaders included in the Summit from the red meat sector were Olivia Egerton from Te Hono Movement, Jason Te Brake from ANZCO/Young Farmers, Aneesha Varghese of Silver Fern Farms, Turi McFarlane, Olivia Ross and David Kidd B+LNZ,

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