Thursday, 14 April 2016 19:27

‘Let’s unclog the Red Band channels’

Written by  Peter Burke
Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard. Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard.

Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard questions whether Fonterra is truly representing NZ values and culture.

He also questions whether the co-op is highlighting the iconic elements of farming in this country.

He told Dairy News that he has a feeling that Fonterra in the last few years has drifted away from the values the Dairy Board used to espouse and which dairy farmers could relate to. The 'NZ feel' is somehow missing from Fonterra, he says.

"An example I have used a couple of times is that I saw Fonterra-branded clogs. A few years ago at the networkers' conference the theme was orange. To me, as far as New Zealand is concerned, the colour is black and the footwear is Red Bands," he says.

Though Hoggard supports Fonterra in its hiring the best people in the world for particular jobs, he says these people also need the skills to connect with the people they are serving – the shareholding dairy farmers of the cooperative and the NZ public.

"When you have people who are not born and bred in NZ it can be hard for them to articulate New Zealand values, the New Zealand story, the history of the country and its people and cultures. It doesn't mean they are crap at their jobs, but those things are the extra value we must have in the business – core, solid home grown talent."

Hoggard's comments echo the sentiments of others in the dairy and wider agribusiness sector who have expressed concern at Fonterra's poor performance as a communicator.

Hoggard says he would like Fonterra to be NZ's brightest and best graduates' first choice when they look for employment.

"My question is, are we doing enough to encourage and build home grown talent?

"My brother and sister are in agriculture related jobs that are not onfarm. But both of them, having been born on a farm and [understanding the farming context], have a passion for the NZ dairy industry which they take into their jobs.

"That passion for the industry is invaluable and we need to do all we can to develop home grown talent with empathy with our dairy farmers."

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