6 Dec 2017

'Brexit will have very little impact on Zespri'

8:50 pm on 6 December 2017

Farmers and exporters are being urged to invest in marketing and branding to protect themselves from potential Brexit fallout.

Exporters are worried about what the UK's departure from the European Union will mean for them.

A senior lecturer in Agribusiness Management at Lincoln University, Nic Lees, said Brexit must serve as a reminder not to rely on commodity exports.

He said about 70 percent of New Zealand exports reach consumers without branding, or any identification that it was sourced from this country.

Dr Lees said that urgently needed to change, and exporters should start to invest in better branding.

"In terms of being able to mitigate the risk of Brexit or other changes in government policy, the more that we're able to have brands in the market that consumers are demanding, that gives us a level of protection," he said.

"If you develop a brand that's demanded by consumers it's very difficult to shut that out of the market because consumers are demanding it and recognising it."

Dr Lees said Zespri and Anchor butter and some wine were a good example of branding.

"I would expect that Brexit will have very little impact on Zespri kiwifruit, or our wines that are in the UK markets.

"You can imagine what would happen if through Brexit the UK tried to put restrictions on NZ Sauvignon blanc, there would a backlash from consumers, so that might make that difficult.

"But if you're just selling commodities, consumers have no visibility of that and often they can be easily substituted for internal production, or production from other countries."

He said New Zealand had never been good at marketing its food products.

"Unfortunately, most other industries still focus primarily on commodity trading."

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs