24 Aug 2012

Executives say $60b exports by 2025 can be done

5:45 am on 24 August 2012

Executives from the primary sector who went to an economic "boot camp" in the United States have agreed that a government economic growth target for the sector is achievable.

More than 20 senior executives from the dairy, meat, seafood, wine and horticulture industries shut themselves away for a week-long brainstorming session at Stanford University in California. Also in attendance were the director-general of the Ministry for Primary Industries and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's chief executive.

Primary Industries Minister David Carter, who joined the camp for four days, says the group represented sectors accounting for about 80% of primary exports.

New Zealand Merino Company chief executive John Brackenridge initiated the camp in a bid to get companies exploring ways of cooperating as well as competing.

Increased volume alone 'won't get us there'

Bill Falconer, who chairs the Government's primary growth partnership advisory panel as well as the Meat Industry Association, says participants were enthusiastic about lifting their game.

He says government suggestions that the sector could grow by up to 7% a year, reaching exports of more than $60 billion by 2025, were canvassed in some of the sessions.

"The guys there felt obliged to have a look at whether that was a reasonable aspiration - something that could reasonably be pursued," Mr Falconer says.

"They concluded that it could, but that increased volume of production ... wouldn't get us there. They would have to have measures in place which would increase the value from the market."

Mr Falconer says much of the debate centres on ideas for getting more from the market, including taking control of the value chain from the market to the farm.