Sunday, August 14, 2022

Opportunity knocks for food and fibre

Neal Wallace

The challenges facing the food and fibre sector should be reframed as opportunities, a new report says.

Lain Jager, chair of Te Puna Whakaaronui, the Food and Fibre Sector think tank says issues such greenhouse gas emissions and water quality should not be framed as “not digestible”.

Jager says it is in the best interests of NZ that these issues be considered as opportunities to which solutions will be found.

“Doing that is in the best interests of all NZers.”

Jager was discussing the release of the think tank’s first report Well NZ, Reframing NZ’s Food Sector Opportunities.

The report warns that innovation and provenance in New Zealand’s food and fibre sector is falling behind our global competitors because it lacks a clear strategic direction.

While NZ food exports are thriving, the growth strategy pursued by our competitors threatens our market share.

“Sitting back to admire the view is not an option,” the report warns.

While change is happening, the pace and scale is too slow and must occur to keep up with consumer demand.

“It needs to be super-sized, it needs boosting through targeted investment in progressive technology and practices.”

Government and business need to strategically align science, research, innovation,and technology to address future food production systems to meet consumer needs and to attract people with the necessary expertise.

Current and forecast high product prices could provide the investment needed to make those required changes.

The report states that the world is witnessing the largest convergence of technology at any point in history.

Adding to that complexity are changes to the demographic, financial and geopolitical situation which will alter the way the world has operated.

NZ needs an “urgent, and wide, conversation about reframing Food and Fibre Sector growth opportunities within a future focused food ecosystem,” the report states.

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