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Wednesday, 25 May 2016 06:55

A great story to tell — Editorial

Written by 
Mike Petersen. Mike Petersen.

New Zealand special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says NZ desperately needs to develop a new primary sector story to help sell its products to the world.

And it's hard to disagree. 

As Petersen told last week's DairyNZ Farmer Forum, we need a coherent NZ story and it's desperately needed to take out into the world, particularly because at least 90% of what our primary sector produces locally is sold offshore.

No one has a better understanding of how NZ agriculture and its products are portrayed on the international scene than Mike Petersen. He has attended most of the country's trade negotiations in the past few years, ensuring the primary sector's perspective is included.

But who is going to take the leadership role in bringing the sector together to develop the NZ Inc. story?

Let's not allow the creation of an inane postcard claim like '100% Pure'. That has become a rod with which the agri-sector has been constantly beaten by environmental fundamentalists, competitors and others. NZ's story must be pan industry-led and adopted.

Petersen suggests that NZ Trade & Enterprise, MPI and the primary sector come together to promote a story of integrity and trust in our export systems and pull together what we are already doing. As he pointed out, currently all the pieces – such as environmental credentials and traceability – are in different places and showcased in different ways, rather than in one coherent picture.

As Lewis Road Creamery founder Peter Cullinane also told the farmers' forum, "There's an opportunity to do something clever that no other country is doing."

It is past time a collective NZ primary sector story was developed; we have a great story to tell and the world needs to hear it.

A combined, pan-industry approach is the only way forward.

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