Comment: Future of red meat promotion under threat?

Allan BarberNext year’s Commodity Levy Act referendum is one of the factors concentrating meat industry minds on the question of red meat promotional investment. Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) is currently conducting a consultation round with individual meat companies to find out how this critically important, if contentious, topic should be agreed for the benefit of all industry participants, reports Allan Barber.

B+LNZ chief executive Scott Champion told me it’s too early to make any predictions about the outcome, at least until after completion of the consultation round at the end of September. With the referendum about 12 months away, the process is geared to providing time to gather enough detail for promotional strategy development before taking this out to farmers to test it in advance of the vote.

The purpose of the discussions with meat companies is to ensure market expenditure is aligned with what the meat industry wants while enabling B+LNZ to fund its essential activities which must now confront new pressures such as environmental constraints. Any new proposal will also have to satisfy levy payers or risk derailing the success of the referendum, although improved sheep and beef returns if maintained should make a Yes vote more certain.

The present mix of promotion funded by the farmer levy includes two main strands – the first is country of origin marketing for lamb in the UK, Europe and North America and for beef in China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea, supplemented by some jointly funded variations that support individual exporter programmes; the second comprises campaigns with matching contributions from participating exporter groups across a range of markets and products.

For example, since 2011, exporting companies have put $1 million a year into sheepmeat promotion in UK and Europe to supplement B+LNZ’s budgeted expenditure. Equally a group of exporters has shared in a campaign to promote New Zealand grass-fed beef in China.

This strategy has resulted in a move away from generic mass marketing and advertising to more tightly focused campaigns based on research and analysis. This has reinforced the importance of educating consumers on how to cook beef and lamb. In addition to the website, social media is becoming an increasingly important weapon in reaching the target market.

While many years’ brand development investment in the UK has resulted in 90 percent top-of-mind consumer recall of New Zealand lamb, research has identified the need for exporters to target consumers closer to the point of purchase because of lamb’s premium price position. A large part of the promotional work in Asia to support New Zealand beef has focused initially on the benefits of grass-fed beef – low calorie, low cholesterol and low-fat – for the premium restaurant trade as the most effective way to reach consumers.

Spending limited funds wisely, whether contributed by farmers or meat exporters, is a crucial issue for New Zealand’s red meat sector, both internationally and domestically. Withdrawal of promotional support as a result of failure to get agreement between meat companies and B+LNZ would effectively mean the industry has chosen to shoot itself in the foot.

An immediate issue is whether it will be remotely possible to obtain agreement of all Meat Industry Association members to contribute funds for the purpose of country of origin promotion and, if so, how much. Of the larger meat companies, Silver Fern Farms’ chief executive Keith Cooper has indicated a strong preference for company brand promotion as opposed to the generic alternative. Instead of glossy marketing in traditional markets, he would be prepared to consider some funding for educational promotion in emerging markets. Other companies are still in favour of country of origin New Zealand promotion in specific markets.

Since it often seems there’s as much chance of getting an agreed meat industry position as there is of formulating an agreed United Nations resolution on Syria, I suggested to Champion this might be a challenge. However, he said he was ‘reasonably optimistic’ of getting an industry agreement.

The big question farmers and companies alike must consider is what the long-term impact of ceasing all country of origin promotion would be. There will obviously be some changes to the current promotional mix to make better use of available money, otherwise B+LNZ would not be in discussion with the meat companies on developing a promotional strategy that better matches its objectives.

The unanswered questions are how much B+LNZ is willing to spend on country of origin promotion as against jointly funded activities and what the companies are willing to contribute to the general rather than individual good.

In my opinion, the New Zealand brand is an umbrella under which individual company brand activity should function, but it isn’t realistic for any one company to achieve consumer recognition for its brand in one, let alone several, markets without that support.

It is obviously important for meat exporters to support their own branded programmes in selected markets, while the New Zealand industry maintains its competitive nature.

But levy paying farmers have both an obligation and a right to support their product both in New Zealand and overseas. B+LNZ is farmers’ vehicle for coordinating their investment by investing their levy funds to the best effect. The meat companies have an obligation to reach an agreement which will support this investment constructively. If not the red meat sector will be in danger of completely losing its way.

Allan Barber is a freelance meat industry commentator. This article has also appeared in this week’s Farmers Weekly. He has his own blog Barber’s Meaty Issues and can be contacted by emailing him at allan@barberstrategic.co.nz.

 

New Zealand lamb debuts at top Indian hotel

Pictured left-to-right are: are New Zealand trade commissioner Richard White, Silver Fern Farms regional manager Stu Donald,  Empire Food director Yogesh Grover and New Zealand High Commissione to India Grahame Morton.

Pictured in the Taj Mahal Palace’s Crystal Room are  (left to right): New Zealand trade commissioner Richard White, Silver Fern Farms regional manager Stu Donald, Empire Foods director Yogesh Grover and New Zealand High Commissione to India Grahame Morton.

New Zealand lamb was introduced to diners at one of India’s top hotels last week.

Silver Fern Farms and its Indian distributor, Empire Foods, worked together to put the meat onto plates at the world famous Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai.

The Taj Mahal Palace is a five star hotel well known for breaking new ground. Built in 1903, it was the first hotel in India to have electricity, a licensed bar and an air-conditioned dining room. It is notable for another food first when in 1980 it was the first hotel to bring in Michelin-star chefs to revolutionise menus.

The lamb made its debut in front of chefs and select food and restaurant industry guests in the Palace’s Crystal Room, a place where maharajas dined and were entertained.

Mumbai-based Empire Foods is well known as a food importer which is the first to source new foods from around the globe for customers in India, according to the chilled and frozen importer’s director Yogesh Grover.

“We are delighted to introduce the highest quality foods to customers in India. When you dine at the country’s best restaurants, like the palaces of the Taj Group, you expect the world’s best lamb on menus and the exceptional quality of Silver Fern Farms’ New Zealand lamb is indisputable.”

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper says Silver Fern Farms’ lamb is perfectly suited to the Taj Mahal Palace’s restaurant menu as it is a premium food, naturally raised by expert farmers on the open green pastures of one of the safest meat producing countries in the world. Cooper says the company is looking forward to working with Empire Foods to reach foodservice customers in India.

“Empire Foods is an excellent partner for us in the India market because it understands how to meet the high quality service expectations of five-star hotels and fine dining restaurant customers.”

New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India, Grahame Morton, is pleased to see companies build new partnerships that grows trade between New Zealand and India.

“I’m pleased that more of New Zealand’s top quality lamb is going to be available on fine restaurant menus in India. New Zealand and India governments negotiated an arrangement in late 2012 that has allowed regular sheep and goatmeat exports to commence,” he commented. “I see high quality New Zealand agricultural products adding to the options that top Indian businesses and chefs have to provide superb dining experiences for their discerning Indian and foreign consumers.”

Yogesh Grover says Empire Foods has a very well established, well managed distribution chain across the country. “By and far, we are one of the very few companies in India which has well established cold chain for frozen food products spread throughout the country both for institutional and retail products.”

“Our products are sold throughout the length and breadth of India. Our distributors’ network is spread from Jammu & Kashmir in North to Kerala in South and from Assam and Calcutta in East to Mumbai in West, where our head office is located.”

The Taj Group is a key customer of Empire Foods. Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces comprises 93 hotels in 55 locations across India with an additional 16 international hotels in the Maldives, Malaysia, Australia, UK, USA, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Africa and the Middle East.

 Supplied by Silver Fern Farms.

Comment: B+LNZ’s overseas promotion spend under review

Allan BarberNext year, sheep and beef farmers will have their five yearly referendum under the Commodity Levies Act when they get to vote on whether they wish to continue funding Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) as their industry good body, writes Allan Barber.

It was a fairly close run thing last time and actually resulted in the motion to continue with wool promotion being defeated, although this is now back on the agenda. However, there is obviously some nervousness about the likely outcome of the next referendum, although this may be unfounded if farmer returns continue to be positive.

One element of B+LNZ’s activity which tends to provoke debate among farmers is the use of funds for overseas promotion. Within the last 20 years, and especially more recently, there has been an agreement within the meat industry that promotion should be jointly funded by Meat Industry Assocation (MIA) members and B+LNZ.

But it appears there is a feeling at farmer level expenditure of this nature should not continue to be funded as it currently is and funds spent by B+LNZ should be directed behind the farmgate. This will undoubtedly become a key issue to resolve satisfactorily before the referendum.

B+LNZ has consulted all the individual meat companies on establishing a separate joint marketing entity which would represent farmers and all MIA processor and exporter members under a similar structure to the B+LNZ Inc domestic promotional body. This structure sets a precedent for a jointly-funded marketing organisation with its own board and management which in this case will be able to apply for third party support from government agencies such as Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

After the last referendum, there was talk of the domestic B+LNZ organisation taking over the international marketing as well because of its skills and expertise in this area. But that no longer appears to be on the agenda.

The issue with the latest marketing proposal is whether it will be remotely possible to obtain agreement of all MIA members to contribute funds for the purpose of country of origin promotion and, if so, how much. Of the larger meat companies, Silver Fern Farms’ chief executive Keith Cooper indicated a strong preference for company brand promotion; other companies are in favour of generic New Zealand promotion in specific markets.

Rather than glossy marketing in traditional markets, he would be prepared to consider some funding for educational promotion in emerging markets. However, he questioned how much should be spent in this way and said he was not interested in another quango to administer it.

This is a long running philosophical debate – some farmers are unwilling to keep spending their levies on what they believe should be meat exporters’ responsibility, while others see it as an essential part of their business; and within the MIA membership there is a divergence of views between those that favour country of origin marketing and those in favour of supporting their individual company brand.

It is possible to see merit in each of these points of view, although the least justifiable position would appear to be for farmers to believe they should take no responsibility at all for the generic promotion of their beef and lamb. The success of New Zealand Lamb in mainly European markets is testament to the importance of country of origin marketing.

The alternative of no New Zealand Inc brand activity, especially if it can attract government support in addition to industry funding, would seem to be a case of the red meat sector shooting itself in the foot. A compromise solution which satisfies both farmers and companies, while enabling the larger companies to afford support for their company brands would appear to be in the best interests of all the parties.

But B+LNZ has to make sure it gets a yes vote in the referendum next year, while the prospect of all MIA members agreeing on an industry marketing strategy is reasonably far-fetched.

It will be good if everybody involved could work positively for the general good of the sector.

Allan Barber is a meat industry commentator. He has his own blog Barber’s Meaty Issues and can be contacted by emailing him at allan@barberstrategic.co.nz.

Comment: Barber’s thoughts from the UK

Allan BarberWhile in the UK briefly last week I spent a couple of nights with an old university friend who actually got a First in Agriculture at Cambridge which was the best degree achieved by any of my friends or, not surprisingly, me. He farms near the M4 in Berkshire less than 100 kilometres from London.

As usual when I see him, we were chatting about the state of agriculture in our respective countries. He asked me whether I needed a ‘pommie farmer whinge’ to provide some material for a column, so not unnaturally I told him to go ahead. His first complaint was about the amount of New Zealand lamb competing with British lamb in the supermarkets. I suggested the view back home was the natural seasonal fit of New Zealand product didn’t really cut across, but rather complemented, the seasonal availability of British lamb.

He partly agreed with me on this, but said the British sheep farmer would still prefer it if the competition from our lamb didn’t exist. I was able to provide some reassurance here by telling him how China had come from nowhere to be the biggest market by volume, if not value, for New Zealand lamb which meant there was progressively less being exported to the UK than was the case even 12 months ago.

An aside here which I discovered soon after getting back at the weekend: apparently sales of stockinette are back up to levels last seen in the 1980s when most New Zealand lamb exports were shipped in carcase form. This is clearly a direct consequence of the increase in sales to China, so while we can be pleased with the diversification from our traditional markets, we should be less excited by the return to a product form from the 1980s.

As a crop farmer who has a contract with a contractor on a similar profit share basis to our share milking model, my friend is frustrated by the delay in setting the basis for the current season’s EU subsidy. While we may think he’s lucky to be receiving a subsidy at all, as I told him, his frustration is understandable, because until he gets this information, he can’t confirm the profit share with his contractor.

Interestingly, his calculations indicate that this year’s profits will be higher than last year, in spite of a lower price. This is because the yield this year is so much better than last. After a very wet start to 2014, the weather has been much more favourable and this year’s crop is in much better condition.

My friend confirmed the continuing problems being experienced by British dairy farmers who are still losing money on every litre of milk they produce. The supermarkets still dominate the price of milk, while it appears farmers don’t have the ability to supply milk at a higher price for the manufacture of cheese and other value added products.

A final impression from my brief visit was the lack of sheep, at least in the parts of England I drove through. In the Cotswolds, where I grew up, sheep appear to be almost a forgotten species with only the impressive wool churches, built in the Middle Ages, to serve as a reminder of where the region’s wealth originally came from.

But I suspect that has probably been the case for the last thirty years or more. Land use change isn’t restricted to dairy farm conversions in Canterbury and Southland.

Allan Barber is a meat industry commentator. He has his own blog Barber’s Meaty Issues and can be contacted by emailing him at allan@barberstrategic.co.nz.

 

Prime Minister helps select New Zealand’s tastiest lamb

Sophie Pascoe, Sarah Walker, Prime Minister John Key and Lisa Carrington at the 2014 Glammies.New Zealand’s most tender and tasty lamb was announced yesterday afternoon at the final of the annual Beef + Lamb New Zealand Golden Lamb Awards, aka the Glammies.

Fraser and Sara Briant from Gisborne beat over 150 entrants with their Coopworth, to claim the Grand Champion title, the coveted trophy and $2,500 in prize money.

New Zealand prime Minister John Key was part of the panel selected to taste and judge the top 20 lambs in New Zealand alongside B+LNZ Inc Iron Maidens Sarah Walker, Lisa Carrington and Sophie Pascoe, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ambassador Chefs Ben Batterbury and Darren Wright and head judge Graham Hawkes.

“This year there were a couple of standout entries for me. I really enjoyed judging alongside John Key and the other Iron Maidens, we all understand the competitive aspect to the competition so it was a lot of fun!” says Sarah Walker.

The top 20 lambs were selected from a total of 158 entries which were put through scientific measurements of tenderness, succulence and colour by Carne Technologies.

Also awarded today was the title of Grand Champion Retailer which went to Progressive Enterprises (Countdown), North Island with their Dorset/Romdale.

The Grand Champion’s entry was processed at Silver Fern Farms Takapau.

The 2014 Glammies were sponsored by Zoetis and further supported by processing plants across the country. These include: AFFCO, Alliance Group Ltd, Ashburton Meat Processors Ltd, Auckland Meat Processors/Wilson Hellaby, Blue Sky Meats, Cabernet Foods/Kintyre Meats, CMP Canterbury, Harris Meats, Land Meat NZ, Lean Meats, Progressive Meats, Silver Fern Farms, and Taylor Preston/Ken Wilson Meats.

The Glammies finalists have been announced

Iron Maiden Sarah Walker and head judge Graham Hawkes at 2013 Glammies.The finalists in the 2014 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Golden Lamb Awards, aka the Glammies, have been announced.

After stringent scientific testing at Carne Technologies, the 158 entries have been whittled down to the top 20 in the hunt for New Zealand’s most tender and tasty lamb.

The competition, sponsored by Zoetis, saw entries from farmers nationwide as they try to take home the prize money and the kudos of being named the producer of New Zealand’s tastiest lamb.

Meat retailers are also in the race as they vie for the Retail Grand Champion title.

The finalists are:

Class 1: Best of Breed – Traditional

  • Fraser Briant, Gisborne (Coopworth) processed at Silver Fern Farms Takapau
  • Forbes Cameron, Ashhurst (Romney) processed at Alliance Dannevirke
  • Paul, Rachel & Mark Heslip, Balfour (Perendale/Romney) processed at Alliance Lorneville
  • Colin Lockhart, Lawrence (Romney) processed at Alliance Lorneville

Class 2: Best of Breed – Crossbreed

  • Warren Erickson, Gore (Coopworth Texel) processed at Silver Fern Farms Finegand
  • John & Wendy Knowles, Tuatapere (Romdale/Texel) processed at Alliance Lorneville
  • Roger & Alison Thomas, Tuatapere (Perendale Texel) processed at Silver Fern Farms Waitane
  • Murray Wards, Gore (Textra) processed at Alliance Lorneville

Class 3: Best of Breed – Terminal X

  • Lindsay & Judith Gerrard, Winton (Coopworth Texel/Texel) processed at Silver Fern Farms Waitane
  • Don Morrison, Gore (Growbulk/Growbulk Charollais) processed at Alliance Lorneville
  • Pete Swinburn, Waipukurau (Kelso Composite/Suffolk) processed at Silver Fern Farms Takapau
  • Matt & Lynley Wyeth, Masterton (Highlander/Primera) processed at Silver Fern Farms Takapau

Class 4: Best of Breed – Open

  • Leon & Wendy Black, Riverton (Textra Texel Coopworth/Texel) processed at Alliance Lorneville
  • Robert Gardyne, Oturehua (Perendale/Poll Dorset Texel) processed at Alliance Lorneville
  • Lindsay & Judith Gerrard, Winton (Coopworth Texel/Texel) processed at Silver Fern Farms Waitane
  • Danny Mickleson, Taihape (Textra Romney East Friesian/Textra Texel) processed at Silver Fern Farms Takapau

Class 5: Retail

  • Greytown Butchery, Greytown (Texel) 
  • Progressive Enterprises (Countdown), North Island x3

The Grand Champion will be found at Wanaka’s Upper Clutha A & P Show on 7 March where a panel of judges will taste their way through samples of all 20 finalist lamb legs.

The competition is supported by processing plants across the country. These include: AFFCO, Alliance Group Ltd, Ashburton Meat Processors Ltd, Auckland Meat Processors/Wilson Hellaby, Blue Sky Meats, Cabernet Foods/Kintyre Meats, CMP Canterbury, Harris Meats, Land Meat NZ, Lean Meats, Progressive Meats, Silver Fern Farms, Taylor Preston/Ken Wilson Meats.

Material supplied by B+LNZ Inc.

 

Alliance Group and M&S launch research project

One of the country’s largest meat processor and exporters Alliance Group and the iconic UK retailer Marks & Spencer are to launch a research project after signing a sole-supply chilled lamb deal.

The Marks & Spencer-supported research will examine the effect of different environments and types of feed on lamb growth rates, carcase weight and yield of New Zealand lambs.

A delegation from Marks & Spencer has just completed a visit to New Zealand to discuss the research and the major supply contract.

Murray Behrent, group livestock manager at Alliance Group, says the research project and exclusive contract for Pure South lamb demonstrated the strengthening relationship between the two companies.

“The research and the exclusive contract is great news for Alliance Group and our suppliers. We have enjoyed a 20 year partnership with Marks & Spencer, which is well-known for its loyal customer base for lamb. Alliance Group is looking forward to supplying more premium products to this important market and commencing this key piece of research to help improve the returns to our suppliers.

“All Alliance Group products supplied to Marks & Spencer will be sourced from registered M&S Select farms so that the co-operative can provide traceability for the UK retailer.”

Steve McLean, head of agriculture and fisheries sourcing at Marks & Spencer, says: “We have been impressed with the way that the Alliance Group’s lamb products have performed over the past 12 months and the feedback from our customers has been excellent. Alliance Group’s commitment to traceability, the strength of its research and development programme and the quality of the livestock provided by its suppliers were key factors in our decision to sign this contract and collaborate in this research.”

The Pacesetter research project, which follows an earlier study carried out in 2011, will be undertaken at Alliance Group supplier Lone Star Farms station in Middlemarch.

Lone Star Farms has noticed large variations in lamb meat yield, from property to property, and throughout the season. They are interested in the influence that non-genetic factors, such as type of forage and sex of lamb, have on growth rates, carcase weight and meat yield throughout the season and how they can alter these to optimise production and profit on-farm.

Jo Kerslake, the consultant at AbacusBio conducting the research, said preliminary results from the 2011 trial showed yield decreased over time with lambs yielding highest off their mother in January (56.1 percent), decreasing by two percent in February and March, decreasing another 0.6 percent in April and another 0.6 percent in May. No large differences were observed between lambs of different breed or sex but some differences were observed for lambs grazing different forages.

“This decreasing trend in yield throughout the season is often questioned by farmers. While it is well known that genetics can influence overall yield, the influence of forage type, environment type and management on lamb meat yield over time is not so well known.

“A second trial is being carried out to better quantify the effect of forage and environment type and will include irrigated lucerne, irrigated ryegrass, dryland ryegrass and dryland fescue.”

As part of the trial, 1,000 lambs were electronically tagged at weaning, with weight, age and sex recorded. Lambs are randomly split over the four different forage and environment types to be assessed. The lambs will be re-weighed at fortnightly drafts and processed with individual lambs being tracked to Alliance Group’s VIAscan® information.

“To understand the impact that forage and environment type, sex of lamb, and time of season has on growth rates and yield, it will be important to try and assess these factors independent of feed restriction or parasite challenges,” she said.

“To ensure we get a clear picture, lambs will be fed to their full potential, parasites controlled, weather and soil temperature recorded and pasture amount and qualities measured”.

Alliance Group is a co-operative owned by approximately 5,000 farmer shareholders and is the world’s largest processor and exporter of sheepmeat.

Marks & Spencer is one of the UK’s leading retailers with more than 21 million customers every week. The company employs over 82,000 people in the UK and abroad, and has over 700 UK stores, plus an expanding international business with over 50 different territories around the world.

Alliance Group supplied material.

NZ’s Beef and Lamb ‘culinary rockstars’ revealed

Beef and Lamb 2014 Ambassador Chefs

Left to right are: Mikey Newlands, Scott Kennedy, Darren Wright, Ben Batterbury and Ryan Tattersall.

The five 2014 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ambassador Chefs have been announced.
Chosen from the 164 recipients of the 2014 Beef and Lamb Excellence Award, the selected chefs represent some of the top performers amongst the Award holders.

Each of the five chefs dished up one course of a beef and lamb degustation menu yesterday to a table of 20 media personnel.

The five chefs are: Ben Batterbury, True South Dining Room at the Rees Hotel, Queenstown; Scott Kennedy, Nero Restaurant, Palmerston North; Mikey Newlands, Bracu, Auckland; Ryan Tattersall, Cobar Restaurant, Wellington; and Darren Wright, Chillingworth Road, Christchurch.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc chief executive, Rod Slater, says this year there has been a real emphasis put on these chefs.

“To us they’ve always been rockstars in their own right, but we thought there was space to really celebrate their success in a much larger way.

“That is what today’s lunch is about, showing the media just how good these guys are and how proud we are to be associated with them,” says Slater.

Each of the chefs will work with Beef + Lamb New Zealand over the course of the year at cooking demonstrations nationwide.

2014 will also see the launch of the Ambassador Chef Series which will see a special ticketed event held in each of the chefs’ restaurants across the year.

Silver Fern Farms to launch retail range into China

Lamb Stir-Fry from Silver Fern Farms' retail range that's heading to China soon. While the majority of the pack will be in English, it will have a Chinese label on the reverse.

Lamb Stir-Fry pack from Silver Fern Farms’ retail range that’s heading to China soon. While the majority of the pack will be in English, it will have a Chinese label on the reverse, the company says.

Silver Fern Farms’ branded retail range of lamb will only be a click away from customers shopping online in Shanghai from March.

The retail range will be sold on-line via distribution and marketing partner NZ Focus who sell a strong stable of New Zealand made branded products in China.

Silver Fern Farms’ group category manager Grant Howie says this is a significant move into the high-end retail category for the company, which has until now been a commodity product exporter into China.

“Going into Shanghai with NZ Focus via the on-line channel, along with using a TV shopping channel puts us in a position where we are close to our consumers which is a real advantage.”

Grant Howie, Silver Fern Farms brand category managerHowie says that China is Silver Fern Farms’ largest market by volume and value off the back of commodity exports of low-mid range lamb and beef cuts. This is the first time a premium consumer branded range will be exported to the market.

“This move will diversify our product range into China, as well as diversifying our channel to market. It is the first time we have put our retail products into China so selling on-line direct makes sense as we can get meaningful feedback from consumers on what they want from our products.”

The online sales will be supported by promotions on a popular home direct TV shopping channel, online promotions and in-store cooking demonstrations.

“The Shanghai market has consumers who look for quality products from New Zealand and they are taking up on-line home shopping in strong numbers. On-line shoppers in China are a small but developing segment of the market but as you can imagine with the size of China it’s got potential for considerable scale for us.” says Howie.

The lamb retail packs will be sold in frozen form; otherwise they are exactly the same as the retail pack products sold in New Zealand – right down to the English language packaging.

“Authenticity of produce is a key concern of Chinese consumers. This is especially the case at the top end of the market where these retail packs are aimed. We take significant pride in being 100 percent made of New Zealand where our lamb is farmed free-range in a natural environment and our retail packaging makes a big point of that.”

Silver Fern Farms has the only meat range being sold through NZ Focus.

“NZ Focus is an excellent partner as they know how to sell the importance of our place – New Zealand, and they have many years’ experience on the ground in China.”

Production for the range is underway and first sales are expected in March. It is envisaged the range will eventually be sold into high-end supermarkets in Shanghai.

Material supplied by Silver Fern Farms.