New Zealand's historic free trade deal with the United Kingdom is "very positive" for the New Zealand wine industry, says New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive Philip Gregan.
That of course leads to the question of when and where to collaborate. For New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) the answer to that question helps inform the scope and focus of our advocacy, marketing, research and sustainability activities.
However, our industry is not an island, and the issues that we choose to collaborate on are also of interest to other parties. With collaboration part of our DNA, it makes sense to work with other parties where we have shared interests. As a result, NZW collaborates with a host of other organisations on issues of mutual interest. For example, on labour issues, we work very closely with Horticulture New Zealand, New Zealand Ethical Employers, Apples and Pears New Zealand, Summerfruit New Zealand, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers and others. On New Zealand trade issues, NZW is a member of the New Zealand International Business Forum, and on global wine trade issues we work with colleague bodies in the United States, Australia, Canada, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and others throught the World Wine Trade Group, and at the International Organisation of Vine and Wine. The list of our collaborations is long.
One of the most recent and important collaborations is one launched in July 2020 by the Prime Minister: the food and fibre sector roadmap, Fit for a Better World - Accelerating our Economic Potential. The roadmap sets out three ambitious targets to achieve a more productive, sustainable, and inclusive economy within the next decade:
- Productivity - adding $44 billon in primary sector export earnings over the next decade
- Sustainability, reducing New Zealand's biogenic methane emissions and restoring our freshwater environment to a healthy state
- Lifting employment of Kiwis in the sector by 10,000 over the next four years and 10 percent by 2030.
Helping oversee the strategy is the Food and Fibre Partnership Group (FFPG) which includes chairs and chief executives from across the primary sector, Māori agribusiness experts, and Government chief executives.
From a wine perspective, Fit for a Better World (or as we say Fit for a Better Wine World) is a very important and positive strategic initiative. While led by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), it provides a framework that is impacting thinking and decision-making across a broad section of Government including Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Ministry for the Environment, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (their chief executives are all members of the FFPG). It also reflects strong input from the private sector.
In the first year, significant progress has been made in bringing to life the aspirations driving the Fit for a Better World. An update on progress was published mid-year which charts developments in the first year of the strategy (see fitforabetterworld.org.nz).
There is a very strong strategic alignment between the initiative and the focus areas of our sector and NZW. While there are some areas that might not be of interest to our industry (biogenic methane being a stand out example) in general terms the issues of interest to our industry are central to strategy. A few examples highlight this:
- Recently MPI has produced a report looking at the water issues facing the primary sector. This report, which is a direct output from Fit for a Better World, addresses one of the key issues facing our sector in the future; it makes a compelling read (see mpi.govt.nz/water-availability- and-security).
- Growers and wineries will hopefully be aware of the proposed new Sauvignon Blanc grapevine improvement research programme. This is a major initiative for the sector and is designed to build resilience in the face of climate change – the strategic alignment with Fit for a Better World is clear.
- Similarly, there is a major focus on workforce issues in the strategy. Labour availability and training are clearly key issues for our industry both short-term under Covid conditions with closed borders, and medium to long-term if the industry is to continue to produce high quality grapes and wine, and grow and prosper into the future. Fit for a Better World provides a framework for understanding and supporting clear labour strategies for the primary sector in the future.
One year on, Fit for a Better World is starting to prove its real worth for our sector. As such, it is deserving of our ongoing support. From a grower and winery perspective, have a look at the Fit for a Better World strategy, and think about how you can bring its aspirations to life in your business.