Red Meat Story: The prologue

Mike Lee, Studio-Industries, really got down to farm level at BLNZ director Phil Smiths farm-near Culverden.

Layering the emotional with the rational, collaboration between meat companies and farmers and recognising consumers’ social bonds and personal values are among the ingredients for the newly emerging Red Meat Story.

Meat exporters have been working together with farmers to produce the recipe for a Red Meat Story that will position New Zealand beef and lamb as a premium food choice globally.

Work led by Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ Ltd), and involving representatives from Alliance Group, Affco, Anzco Foods, Greenlea Premier Meats, Progressive Meats, Taylor Preston and Silver Fern Farms, has been taking place over the past year to design a new market development plan for the sector, part of which is defining an authentic story for the sector.

Nick Beeby.

Nick Beeby, B+LNZ’s general manager market development, is excited about the project and says there has been a change in mindset from everyone involved.

While some meat exporters are working on their own stories, the new branding ‘layer’ will add the red meat sector’s own story to NZ Trade & Enterprise’s ‘New Zealand Story’ toolkit that helps New Zealand exporters. Initial thoughts were taken to a cross-sector group early in 2016.

“Farmers said it was absolutely right, the meat companies that it gives clarity about roles and it allowed us to build a framework to test with everyone,” he reports.

This led to more sessions with farmers and meat companies and an agreement for targeting of sectors. Since then, Beeby has been fine-tuning the target audiences and developing the story itself. This is in two layers: the rational and the emotional, which will be woven into the final story to connect with the sector’s premium customers.

The embryonic story was tested with over 70 people, including farmers, meat companies, consultants and government partners at a workshop in early March.

After taking in the meeting’s feedback, the story will be adjusted. The concepts will then be tested with consumers in different markets before it’s ready for launch, possibly later this year.

Keynote speaker Mike Lee, chief executive of New York-based food design and innovation agency Studio Industries, brought to New Zealand with funding from AGMARDT, contributed something very special to the workshop and elevated people, says Beeby.

Lee encouraged participants to find their authentic food story: “Stories are what connect people and so any story about food is actually a human story – about the growers and farmers and where and how they produce food,” he said.

“Food today is no longer just about sustenance, it’s intrinsically linked with social bonds and personal values. The food consumers eat says something about how they want the world to be, so in essence people are eating their values and these include the way animals are farmed – although food also needs to deliver on taste.”

An important part of the Red Meat Story will be to intertwine the verification systems, including the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s national farm assurance programme, that prove New Zealand beef and lamb is of the highest quality, said B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor.

“When consumers buy it, it’s a choice they make because they care about the good health of their family and the planet.”

This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (April/May 2017) and is reproduced here with permission.

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