Nelson Marlborough Farming - Bowled over

Columns
Tuesday, March 3, 2015

An LBW may not be good news for the New Zealand cricket team but the LBW (Lamb, Beef and Wine) story in the Nelson /Marlborough region is something to celebrate. There are real opportunities in this region for primary producers to grow lamb, beef and wine exports to North America and Asia.

Recently AFFCO packed the first consignment of high quality, grass fed, New Zealand beef to the United States. This product capitalises on the growing demand for healthy alternatives to the traditional grain-fed beef that has the largest market share in the US.

Niche marketing, capitalising on our strength as a producer of naturally reared beef, appeals to the ‘educated environmentally aware consumer’ according to AFFCO. The taste profile is also better.

This is all good news for exporters. In the first quarter of the 2014/15 season, New Zealand beef and veal exports were at an all time high with 58% of these exports heading to North America. This was an increase of 13% over the same period last year. I was also pleased to read that in the same quarter there was an increase in price to $7,670 per tonne, an impressive 29% rise.

While the picture for lamb and mutton is not quite so rosy, it is still encouraging. I was pleased to read a report recently on the Tri-Lamb Group of producers in New Zealand, Australia and the US who are collaborating to grow the demand for sheep meat in the United States. This is being achieved “mainly by increasing consumers' awareness of lamb's nutritional value.” This initiative appears to be paying off because in the first quarter of the 2014/15 year, North America was the only region to see an increase in volumes. The total value of lamb exports rose by 2.0% to $526 million.

Of course Marlborough, and to a lesser extent Nelson, has an international reputation for quality wine production, with Australia as our biggest market. New Zealand Winegrowers chief, Philip Gregan, announced recently that “The United States is likely to become New Zealand's leading wine destination this year.”3 Again this is good news for our region because we have a huge opportunity to capitalise on existing trade initiatives into the world’s biggest economy.

LBW – Lamb, Beef and Wine- I’m raising my glass to celebrate diversity and the Nelson/Marlborough success story.