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Sustainability Key to Branding and Exports

Sustainability Key to Branding and Exports

New Zealand’s branding as a country committed to sustainable economic development and the environment will be a key to our future export success, says Trade Minister, Phil Goff.

Mr Goff today released a report into consumer and retailer attitudes in the United Kingdom to food miles and sustainability related issues. The report was carried out by Fishburn Hedges, a UK based consultancy, and commissioned by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

“The United Kingdom and Europe are huge markets for our predominant exports, food and beverage.

“We wanted clearer evidence about the impact of the food miles argument which has had a higher profile in the UK than in any other country. We also wanted to know more about how consumer and retailer attitudes were influenced by concern about the environmental sustainability of food production”, Mr Goff said.

“The Report supports the continued efforts by New Zealand producers and the Government to expose the flaws of the food miles argument and to focus on the greenhouse gas footprint of the full life-cycle of the product, and to emphasise New Zealand’s sustainability credentials.

“While the UK Government and better informed journalists are aware of the inadequacies of ‘food miles’, the majority of media articles still use food miles as a throw away line, often related to promoting the buy local campaign.

“Awareness of the concept of food miles has increased to around two-thirds of the population. The buy local campaign has substantial support, though about half of shoppers say they are unconcerned which country their food comes from. Factors such as freshness, quality and price remain over-riding concerns.

“Of particular importance is the fact that major UK retailers are increasingly aware of the commercial opportunities associated with demonstrating their environmental credentials.

“Environmental labelling is increasing, at this stage mainly identifying air-freighted produce, though research underway will in future provide a way of measuring product’s greenhouse gas footprint.

“New Zealand, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, has established an Expert Working Group to work with the United Kingdom Government as it develops a methodology to calculate the greenhouse gas footprint of products and services.

“Research done to date, especially by Lincoln University, shows that major New Zealand exports such as dairy and meat are produced using sustainable and efficient agriculture practices, resulting in their often having lower greenhouse gas footprints than those of the local products with which they compete.

“This presents an opportunity rather than a threat for New Zealand produce in a more environmentally aware market.

“But New Zealand cannot be complacent. That is why our Government is prioritising sustainability as a key guiding principle. It will be a defining issue in the twenty-first century.

“Clean, green 100% Pure New Zealand is a hugely valuable brand, but we need to work hard to ensure we maintain this standard, including in our food products.

“Targeted market intelligence on sustainability issues and effective communication of New Zealand’s environment and sustainability credentials are essential to maintain and improve our place in the market.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise will continue to work closely with the food and beverage industry through the Sustainable Food Exports (previously Food Miles) Group towards this end”, Mr Goff said.

The report – Market analysis: Food miles and sustainability trends in the UK – can be found at: www.nzte.govt.nz/foodmiles.


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