Tuesday, 21 August 2018 08:55

Wake up to challenges – O’Connor

Written by  Pam Tipa
Damien O’Connor. Damien O’Connor.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor told the NZ Institute of Primary Industry Management conference that more R&D spending is needed in the whole economy and that not all agricultural investment will be behind the farmgate. 

He says MPI’s economic intelligence unit is getting the world’s best information on trends and information on protein, fibre, etc. 

“We are looking out for that information to try to bring it back and share it, but the question is should we force-feed money to try to make progress? If industries don’t see the need to do this they are going to fail anyway. We are not going to subsidise…. we went beyond that in the 1980s. 

“We have to lift our game across the board because we are being challenged by all these alternatives.”

He cites margarine as an example. “As an industry we fought it and they ran over us”. It was easier to spread and after about 15 years of resistance we finally looked at spreadable butter. (Spreadable butter was made by Kaipara Co-op Dairy Co in the early 1970s. Ed.)

“For about 30 years we were beaten up by margarine until finally we got to the point where we said ‘this highly processed stuff is probably worse for you than butter’.”  

“We have to wake up and be more mature about the challenges coming at us.” 

“It won’t be just a picture of the Southern Alps,” he said, referring to a comment from a conference attendee that was our only response so far to the threat from alternative proteins. 

“It will be a whole lot around the nutritional value of meat and ensuring there is not unwanted residues in there. 

“The ability to test around residues is going up and up.”


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