Milk production is continuing to boom.
Speaking at the inaugural proteinTECH conference in Auckland today, Penny reminded 200 attendees of the food miles debate that gripped the country ten years ago.
He says a campaign by UK farmers to turn their consumers against NZ butter and meat flopped because of great work done by Professor Caroline Saunders, Lincoln University.
Research led by Saunders found that contrary to UK farmers’ claims, the carbon footprint of NZ dairy products shipped to UK was 50% of the carbon footprint clocked by UK dairy products; carbon footprint of NZ lamb was only 25% of UK lamb.
Saunders found that NZ cows and sheep grazed outdoors and had a smaller carbon footprint than UK animals which were housed 24/7.
Penny says the British went quiet after Saunders’ research results came out.
“The farmer groups them employed a different strategy- buy British-made food,” he says.
He says consumers warmed to this strategy and NZ lamb exports to the UK declined.
Penny says the food miles debacle shows that science alone wasn’t enough to win consumers’ trust in the UK.
“We need stories, brands around stories and influences to win consumers,” he says.
“We have great science but we are missing out on stories and key influences.
“Caroline (Saunders) provided us great ammunition but we failed to back it with great stories; we were beaten by the British when it came to storytelling.”