29 May 2012

Agribusiness needs pan-industry strategy to prosper: KPMG

7:07 am on 29 May 2012

Agribusiness leaders are calling for a pan-industry strategy to make the most of the sector's potential, warning that New Zealand risks losing out to more competitive countries.

KPMG's annual Agribusiness Agenda lists areas of concern for the sector after surveying 100 leaders

The Agenda notes that biosecurity remains the top priority for protecting the country's economic interests, but says little progress has been made because of divisions between Government and industry.

It also highlights a lack of leadership and talent, weakness in innovation and a heavy reliance on Government to lead the way.

KPMG head of agribusiness for Asia Pacific Ian Proudfoot says the sector should move quickly to develop a strategy based on the successful tourism model.

He says New Zealand can only feed a certain number of people.

"We have a choice as to who those people are. Are they people prepared to pay a premium price and who want a quality, sustainable and safe product? Or do we just want to supply the base commodity product where people will pay the base commodity price?"

Mr Proudfoot says other countries are already ahead of New Zealand with a food and agriculture strategy.

"A good example is in the horticulture sector where Chile has had a very much more integrated industry strategy. They've set themselves the goal of being the largest fruit and vegetable supplier to Asia."

Without a strategy, he says, the future could be grim with the country largely fighting on price for its agricultural products.

"I don't think that would be great for our lifestyles."

Mr Proudfoot says a pan-industry strategy faces many challenges including competition within sectors, too much diversity and lack of accountability.