A Beef + Lamb New Zealand campaign has proven it is possible to not only add value to NZ red meat but also deliver that premium back to farmers, once a market’s unique value profile is understood.
An Our Land and Water-sponsored webinar on the ability of NZ’s food and beverage sector to earn a “green premium”, and then deliver it back to NZ growers and farmers, has highlighted the opportunities that exist and are being realised by the primary sector.
Professor Paul Dalziel of Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit said based off 24 overseas surveys run over three years and generating 10,000 data points, it is possible to determine key influences on consumers’ food choices.
“In all the surveys we are getting figures suggesting market segments that can be identified that are willing to pay a significant premium on food and fibre products that deliver on claims around environment.”
He said given NZ has trade agreements that open up a global market of about three billion people, against its ability to feed only about 35 million, there are certainly sufficient niches for this country to comfortably supply.
Michael Wan, global manager for Beef + Lamb NZ’s Red Meat Story campaign Taste Pure Nature, said that, having recently returned from the United States, he had witnessed a plethora of food products making “natural” claims, making sustainability’s definition more confusing than ever for many consumers.
He also noted that despite data that may suggest consumers will pay a premium for a food product making those claims, things could change when the point of purchase arrived.
He said the Taste Pure Nature campaign run in US and China has undertaken to better understand the role red meat plays in consumers’ diets and then to improve the lack of knowledge around NZ’s unique grass-fed farming system.
“This idea of origin plays a big role. We have learnt once you start educating people, they get interested in it.”
The campaign has identified the “conscious foodie” consumer, one seeking greater levels of assurance around their food supply.
Research has estimated the collaborative campaign has generated a 33% lift in premiums where the Taste Pure Nature campaign has run, and its impact has surprised and excited those involved in it, he said.
The key aspects of the campaign have been awareness, informing consumers what it is that makes grass fed meat different, and aspiration – that is, whether they act on that knowledge.
The campaign has given the market momentum, and participants the confidence to embark on other areas of marketing including food trucks and vendor-distributed ready-to-eat meals.
Mandy Bell, chair of Deer Industry NZ, said the focus for NZ venison has also been on its “naturally raised” farm methods, and its relatively small volume compared to sheep and beef means specific product niches in specific markets have been identified, particularly post-covid.
The lean red meat market in the US is delivering a 20% premium, with the schedule “comfortably” above $7 a kg.
She said for the sustainability claims around land and water to continue to be made, farmers need clarity on where they need to go, and need to be well supported to help them achieve it easier.
“It is quite doable, but it does require end-to-end collaboration.”
Dalziel pointed out research that has also revealed the value of understanding “localism” and interpretation of sustainability to a fine degree within very specific market sectors.
“The strength of the [BLNZ] work is in understanding how the consumers that are their target segment react to different pictures, to different words.
“To take the example of China. We have not been able to find any market segment in our work with dairy consumers concerning carbon neutral or carbon zero.
“But we have found segments of red meat eaters to whom that is an important part of their choice set.
“We are becoming much, much more sophisticated at the industry level at identifying market segments and how to reach out to them using language they will understand.”