Earlier this year, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) began a global study into regenerative agriculture to better understand its similarities and differences to New Zealand farming practices, the opportunities for farmers and a global consumer perspective to gauge the potential for NZ’s red meat exports to extract more value from sheep and beef products.
MPI’s support for the work will see it broaden to include a wine industry perspective.
MPI investment programmes director Steve Penno says regenerative agriculture is receiving a lot of attention and the research will provide insights into what consumers think regenerative agriculture is and whether they are prepared to pay a premium for products produced using those practices.
Research will focus on consumers, industry and experts in the US, UK and Germany.
It will also explore local attitudes toward regenerative agriculture among farmers, processors, winegrowers and others to understand their views on its potential and how it could be incorporated within NZ’s existing value chain.
The companies contracted to undertake the work are New York-based Alpha Food Labs, a world-leading consultancy with expertise in regenerative agriculture co-founded by food innovator Mike Lee, and Forward, a NZ leader in international market research.
B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the research will provide the sheep, beef and wine sectors, as well as the wider food and fibres sectors, with their first large-scale, evidence-based picture of the potential market upsides – or downsides – of regenerative agriculture.
“There has been a massive global surge in interest about regenerative agriculture in the last couple of years, and major multinationals like Danone and General Mills are exploring the marketing of regeneratively-produced products,” he said.
“There are diverse views around what regenerative agriculture actually is, and many people believe our farmers are already applying some of those principles in management practices like rotational grazing.
“However, it’s critical we understand what consumers think and how influential players are acting.
“Understanding these factors helps us to better understand potential demand, and whether there are opportunities for NZ to leverage it.
“We want to get ahead of any opportunities so farmers, and now winegrowers too, can be best placed to take advantage of them.”
Research results are expected in early 2021.