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Food and Beverage taskforce launched

Hon Jim Anderton Minister for Economic Development
Hon Jim Sutton Minister of Agriculture

15 December 2004

Food and Beverage taskforce launched

The Government has named the leaders from the food and beverage industries who will drive a new initiative to boost one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing sectors.

The announcement of the 18 members of the Food and Beverage Taskforce was made today by Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton and Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton.

The Food and Beverage Taskforce marks the beginning of a Government and industry-led initiative to capitalise on one of the country’s fastest-growing sectors. Food and beverage exports have doubled in the past 10 years and today account for close to 50 per cent of total merchandise exports.

The taskforce will ensure that the whole range of government activities that impact on the sector are coordinated and aligned, and that policies support the sector’s growth.

“We are fortunate to be engaging with such a knowledgeable, diverse group of people from the whole food and beverage sector value chain, from paddock to plate. Not only are the Taskforce members leaders in their respective industries, but they bring sound leadership, business management and passion to the group.

“New Zealand food producers are masters of innovation and ingenuity, who have radically transformed the sector within the past 10 to 15 years. The Taskforce will take an informed look at how we can build on their success," Jim Anderton said.

Government representatives on the Taskforce include: the Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton, the Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Murray Sherwin, and the Chief Executive of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Tim Gibson.

Industry leader Tony Nowell, Griffin’s Foods Ltd Managing Director, will co-chair the taskforce with the Minister of Economic Development. Fifteen other representatives from diverse sectors of the food and beverage industry will be working with the Government on the Taskforce bringing total membership to 20. The industry members include:
- Marketing Manager for Blue Sky Meats (NZ) Ltd, John Upton; - Auckland University’s Head of the Discipline of Nutrition, Lynnette Ferguson; - New Zealand Council of Trade Union’s Secretary, Carol Beaumont; - Chief Executive of the Emerald Group, Diane Foreman; - Chief Executive of Heinz Wattie’s Ltd, Tegel Foods Ltd and Heinz Wattie’s Australia, Peter Lucas; - Chief Executive of Aotearoa Fisheries, Robin Hapi; - Chief Executive of the New Zealand Institute for Crop and Food Research Ltd, Paul Tocker; - Chief Executive of Zespri, Tim Goodacre; - National Secretary for the Dairy Workers Union, James Ritchie; - International food journalist, Lauraine Jacobs; - Country Manager for Blackmores, Alison Quesnel; - General Manager of Ngai Tahu Seafood Group, Gavin Holley; - Group Director Strategy and Growth of Fonterra, Graham Stuart; - Farmer and former chairman of Richmond Meats, Sam Robinson.

A further representative from the wine industry will be added before Christmas.

"The potential growth for the food and beverage industry in both domestic and export markets cannot be underestimated. Total exports were nearly $14 billion in the year ending March 2004. On the domestic front, sales of non-alcoholic beverages and food were around $9 billion in 2001, while alcoholic beverages contributed a further $1.2 billion.

“Across the board, the industry employs about 13 per cent of the total workforce and 63,000 people in manufacturing alone. The sector's productivity is consistently higher than the average for the whole economy.

"The Food and Beverage Taskforce will find ways to enhance New Zealand’s role in the international food industry. Their role is to work with the sector to identify and achieve long-term, tangible goals and to take the sector to a new level of sustainable economic growth and exports,” Jim Anderton said.

"There is plenty of room for the food and beverage industry to build on their success so far," Jim Sutton, Minister of Agriculture said.

“The Food and Beverage Taskforce is the first initiative of its kind to take place under Cabinet’s formal Sector Engagement Framework, agreed in May this year. Since 2001 the Government has built partnerships with other industries, including textiles and apparel, wood processing, information and communication technology, biotechnology, design and screen production, to meet the challenges of business growth and to provide developmental assistance.

“We have identified a number of key issues which the new Taskforce will be actively engaged on. There needs to be a great deal of fundamental strategy work to build our understanding around markets, access, opportunities and growth, as well as addressing such things as skill and labour shortages, and research and development spending.

"The Asian market holds a wealth of opportunities for exporters willing to grow their businesses for example. The Taskforce can ensure that opportunities like this are used for maximum advantage," Jim Sutton said.


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