Michael Wan, who led a marketing team on a research trip to China, United States, Germany, India, Indonesia, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand, says this country needs a strong value proposition at a national level and to invest in telling its story.
The trip, which included comprehensive qualitative research at every level of the supply chain in each of the markets they visited, highlighted both a low awareness of NZ – especially its food production systems – but also the potential for growth in the lamb category.
Michael says NZ is known as being the film set for Lord of the Rings- if at all- and in markets where this country is a recognised producer, NZ lamb is often ranked below other nations for premium quality.
Yet everywhere the team visited, they discovered a real hunger for healthy, natural food with a unique taste profile – and NZ lamb ticks all of those boxes.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) market development team- who have been charged with developing the NZ red meat story- has found the story of grass-fed lamb and beef produced by farming families has been captured by other producers. Australia, in particular has been particularly adept at selling this story, but so too has Ireland and the United Kingdom.
“Our international competitors are well organised and investing significantly in market development. NZ is being out-marketed by others where the product and provenance is no better than ours.”
Where Michael sees potential is in the development of a story around a unique taste experience of NZ natural grass-fed lamb and beef produced in an authentic way in harmony with this country’s beautiful environment.
In all the markets the marketing team tested, taste emerged as one of the biggest drivers of meat purchasing decisions and satisfaction, followed closely by factors such as the health attributes of the product, food safety and animal welfare. Interestingly, the animal welfare was more strongly related to the impact that welfare had on the quality of the meat rather than moral issues around farming animals.
Michael believes NZ is well positioned to further leverage this unique taste story and this maybe through the use of breeds, forages or processing methods to deliver a unique taste experience to the market.
Underpinning this taste would be our natural farm systems that ideally are GMO, antibiotic and growth hormone free.
“No other country is in as good a position to claim that.”
What also emerged from this trip was that consumers are willing to pay significant premiums for meat with the attributes they are looking for. B+LNZ’s market development team is conducting further research to quantify the potential premiums NZ could capture from different product attributes or production claims
“We need an origin story, a brand and to invest in an activation strategy.”
Michael says the industry collectively needs to be specific and very focused about the markets it wants to target.
“We need to decide where we want to operate and what markets will deliver the best return based on econometrics and detailed analysis.”
This could mean focusing on regions within markets or even specific retail chains and developing long-term relationships within those supply chains.
Internationally, meat retailing is far more sophisticated and involved than what New Zealanders are familiar with and companies going it alone may find it challenging to gain traction or get cut through in a sea of red meat choices.
Michael is particularly optimistic about the potential to capture more value. He believes the future for this country’s red meat industry is offering a portfolio of brands that complement an over-arching NZ brand story.
“The way to make this work at scale is to work collectively as an industry. Farmers, meat processors and B+LNZ are going to need to be very committed if we want to capitalise on the opportunities which are out there.”
The next step in the stories development is to test the core idea and creative execution in the same markets, as well as work with the sector to co-create an activation strategy.