The Good Food Forum, held at The Cloud in Auckland last week, brought together leading foodies and business leaders to chew the fat over the future of food business in New Zealand. If you missed the event, here are our takeaway themes in a nutshell.
This is an exciting time for food business in New Zealand, with new businesses and innovations starting up. Yet we still rate among the worst countries in the world for obesity, one in five families is food insecure and can’t access nutritious food, we have huge amounts of food waste, we import food ingredients across our supply chains, and our food system is dependent on fossil fuels. How can we create a resilient food system to buffer these issues?
The eight themes that emerged during the Good Food Forum offer some potential ways forward:
1. Businesses need to meet the growing consumer demand for ‘better’ products
According to research by Colmar Brunton, 90 per cent of consumers in the last year have based at least some of their purchasing decisions on sustainability. Tomorrow’s shoppers are curious, conscious and connected and they’re going to create content about your products and services. They want to change the world and they want businesses to change with them.
2. Quality is key
The quality of products is the most important factor for consumers looking for ‘good’ food. More and more people are willing to pay a premium, however we need to be mindful of social equity issues so that poorer sections of society aren’t excluded.
3. Include the true cost of food in production
For the past 150 years business models have focused on selling cheaper and cheaper food. Yet in order to protect the environment we need to incorporate the full cost of production into food pricing, which is likely to take at least 60-70 years. Food, Farms and Freshwater charges a premium for less-intensive production of Taupo Beef, in order to improve water quality. The model has proved so successful the company can’t keep up with demand.
4. Disruptive technology has arrived – there is an increasing role for ICT
Examples of disruptive technology include Menu Monster (a personalised menu planner), Conscious Consumers (which is crowdfunding to build a new tool to track what conscious consumers spend their money on), Insight (a tool from AsureQuality that gives information on individual products’ credentials), Food Portal (a comprehensive online food directory created by the Food Innovation Network), and food forensics like Oritain.
5. Traceability has a growing role.
Consumers now have zero tolerance for issues in the supply chain. They want certainty and businesses need authentic tools to provide this. Consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated around food quality: they are becoming less trusting of food brands around the world and want proof of where food comes from. Traceability, which will become mandatory, enables food brands to verify the provenance of their products.
6. There is a growing role for Maori business
A leading example is Miraka, a Maori-owned dairy business, which started four years ago and has already captured one per cent of the New Zealand dairy market. What makes Miraka different is its brand, developed by its shareholders. The company’s values include integrity, excellence, innovation, kaitiakitanga and tikanga.
7. Business models should be agile
To be fast and agile in the market, you need a responsive business model with a light footprint.
8. Keep an eye on global trends.
We are globally interconnected to the food scene and, like it or not, we have to address issues in the global food system as they will affect our exports. This was exemplified by the horsemeat saga: within days, a local issue had become a global crisis.
Finally, here’s a quote from John McKay, CEO of AsureQuality, that sums up the day in a nutshell:
“We are seeing a change from mindless consumption to mindful consumption.”