Aotearoa’s biggest food and fibre sector summit was held in Christchurch last month bringing together remarkable speakers and changemakers from New Zealand and around the world to share their insights and ignite vital conversations around the future of our primary industries.
Hemp New Zealand exhibited at the summit and was proud to be a significant food partner. Hemp food products were beautifully showcased in the menu over the course of the summit in the form of sauces, dressings, and condiments as well as using it as a crumbing, flavour, and texture ingredient.
As more and more consumers look to sustainable food products with planet-friendly credentials hemp is well-positioned to become part of the solution based on the following take aways from the summit.
The top 10 take aways as summarised by Our Land and Water were as follows:
- Concerns about the health of our land and water, our changing climate, new regulations, fast-changing customer expectations, health and wellbeing inequality, war, pandemic. Despite the unity of the ‘these are times of extreme global change’ message from local and international speakers, there are also signs this message is not getting through.
- Where there are threats, there are also opportunities – and the food and fibre sector in Aotearoa is deeply divided in its focus on each side of the coin. Jenny Cameron (Chief Transformation Officer, MPI) described a sector split in two: one half feeling threatened, undervalued, like no one has their back; the other half energised, excited by opportunities, hopeful about investment, innovation, and cross-sector collaboration.
- Dr Caroline Saunders’ goal for New Zealand: “That no product leaves the country without a premium attached to it.” requires understanding what our food consumers value, which has moved beyond quality and tasty food, to invisible credence attributes like animal welfare, cultural authenticity, and organic production.
- To make Caroline Saunders’ “nothing from New Zealand should be low-cost” dream come true, our food exporters need to be really, really specific about the consumers they target. Saunders used a case study of wine in California to show that while in some markets “made in New Zealand” may still conjure up a general sense of value, younger consumers are looking for much more specific evidence of environmental and social responsibility than country-of-origin.
- Many foods we rely on are on-track to becoming endangered crops, due to their vulnerability to changes in climate, including those imported Kiwi dietary staples: coffee beans and cacao. And there wasn’t a lot of optimism that we are correcting course.
- The data panel on day two of E Tipu described a data paradox: If we keep data private, we deny its value, but there’s also a risk data will lose its value when it’s shared.
- Various strategy documents tell us Aotearoa can respond to the global challenges facing the food and fibre sector in a unique way by embracing the Māori concept of te Taiao – the land, water, climate, and biodiversity that contains and surrounds us all. It’s part of a cultural mindset shift towards systems thinking that is crucial to helping everyone involved in food and fibre in Aotearoa make the right decisions today, for our ancestors to come.
- There is no shortage of investment in food and fibre innovation.
- Keep calm and be prepared were the key take-outs from Michael Utkin (CEO, FieldBee), whose story of keeping his AgriTech company afloat while escaping from Ukraine offers inspiration for everyone dealing with massive complexities and disruption.
- All great changes are preceded by chaos and uncertainty, said Wayne Mulligan (CEO, Fomana Capital), quoting Deepak Chopra, and then Seal: “We’re never going to survive unless we get a little crazy.” We need to be crazy about the markets we want to target, and why we want to target them, said Mulligan. “If they say it can’t happen, good – that’s one less person to compete with.”