What's strange, is the human predisposition to focus on the negative. Particularly as kiwis, growing up staunch and broad shouldered, there was no room for fluffiness, or patting ourselves on the back.
It seems to have come to the point where the media thrive off all of the negative stories and any "feel good" stories aren't news worthy. At risk of being exposed to tall poppy syndrome, everyone is just better off keeping quiet and trooping along, concealing their success or composing their emotion.
Is that where NZ Agri has fallen short?
The "she'll be right” and "just get on with it" attitude have done wonders for our reputation as agricultural workers internationally, and gained us a significant share of GDP in relation to the size of our country.
But, what if we've done all we can through hard work and perseverance in the background and it's time to up our game as the global markets get more competitive?
Speakers and contributors of the recent NZ Agri Investment week, at the Future Farms conference and Food HQ forum spoke at length about "value added products" and "telling our story".
Unfortunately, somewhere along the line it would appear New Zealand has ‘dropped the ball’ when it comes to selling things that aren’t a commodity to a market that is appreciative and educated on where that product came from and how that product got to their kitchen or restaurant.
Currently the NZ dairy sector in particular has hit a monetary low, that has been described by industry experts as ‘cyclical’. Which can be translated to “hold tight, it’ll pass soon.. If you last that long”.
As a consequence the media are all over it like a blowfly to a carcass and have made out that the entire dairy industry are running around like our hair is on fire.
So yes, we get it. Commodities may not be the basket we put all our eggs into.
It was thrown around rooms and pondered by minds extensively during NZ Agri Investment week.
Perspective 2025 speaker and female leader in agri, Lucy Griffiths believes that our only true point of difference in New Zealand is our Maori culture. There are others doing clean and green, so perhaps for us, it’s not enough any more?
Sweet! New angle sorted!
So what about these mysterious “value added” products everyone has been discussing? The fact is, New Zealand is crawling with them. Cheese’s, beverages, meat cuts - you name it - we’re growing and producing it. The game changer is going to be able to find the value added product that can satisfy a significant overseas demand.
The next question is, who leads the charge?
Are farmers responsible for opening their farm gates or standing next to the refrigerated meat aisle in the supermarket to make sure the consumer knows that it’s 100% grass fed, born and raised down the road on land with hundreds of years of Maori heritage? Or do consumers have to want to seek out that knowledge? Are government agencies and “middle men” responsible for facilitating both parties to meet in the middle?
The fact is the future of New Zealand agri is bright. We have potential and opportunities in abundance. The scary part is that technology is catching up. Petri dish burger patties are not too far from becoming a reality - and on mass! Larger more market savvy countries are also putting the squeeze on our market space.
So New Zealand, what are we going to do to stay ahead of the curve?
It's time to pat ourselves on the back for what we have accomplished and start bragging beyond the farm gate. The All Blacks aren't the only legends who deserve a parade.
Grace Pettit is the Content Marketer for Grass Roots Media NZ. She regularly blogs about Agricultural Industry news, Social Media updates and anything in line with her passions of Horses, Young Farmers and Agriculture