Food & beverage stars for NZ to hitch its wagon to – report

By Peter Kerr 13/12/2012

There’s not that many reports you can sit down and study and go – uumm, interesting.

But Auckland-based Coriolis has done it (again), and their ‘Investors guide to emerging growth opportunities in NZ food and beverage exports’ is, and I don’t say this lightly, quite fascinating.

The company has deliberately taken its methodology and report-back from a (potential) investor’s point of view.

The simple objective was to find the next ‘wine’ – such as that fledgling industry existed 25 years ago.
Over 500 food & beverage items, based on export trade codes, were screened down to 25 candidates for stage II in-depth investigation.

Each of these 25 received a quantitative and qualitative scorecard – which makes for strangely compulsive reading. The snapshot view of the products includes:

  • Global market – major importing and exporting countries.
  • NZ exports and imports, key NZ metrics and firms
  • Global market structure and situation – and the nature of the challenge; including leveragable existing NZ factors, potential source of value creation, challenges and limitations

This combination has Coriolis managing director Tim Morris putting some of his reputation on the line, though as he says, the judgements provided are backed by data – and past work for industry – and he’s quite happy to debate and if necessary change some of these opinions in the light of industry and individuals providing new information.

It is a report that brings clarity and light, compared to other types of report that muddle around the middle, never reaching a conclusion. Framed from the point of view ‘well, what would you put your money into’, it really does provide a single-minded focus.

Thus, the potential star performers for NZ according to Coriolis are salmon, honey and alcoholic spirits.

Salmon because there’s a large world market, NZ’s proportion of that is tiny, and our reputation, quality and price received are all top notch. Morris says the challenge for NZ is whether we’d be prepared to see more salmon farms residing on our coasts – does it fit our mental image of our beaches being a summer recreation pursuit?

Honey, especially manuka honey, has lots of potential too. There is a danger (like the term kiwifruit) that we haven’t laid claim to the name Morris says. NZ should also take advantage of the fact there’s a supply constraint around manuka honey, and head away from the notion it’s something to spread on our toast. “We should “weaponise” manuka honey,” Morris says, bringing forward more applications such as throat lozenges, oral sprays and would dressings.

Alcoholic spirits have the ability to ride on the coattails of the market entry and reputation forged by our wines. Selling a bottle of distilled and uniquely flavoured waters for say $70 is, when you think about it, an excellent value-add. Like our early wine industry, there’s large number of small firms, many headed by immigrants (often German), doing interesting and innovative products and leveraging off the New Zealand reputation.

However, this post in no way does justice to, I repeat, a quite fascinating report, with in-depth reports on salmon, honey and alcoholic spirits also available via the Coriolis website.

Apparently the whole project was done on the smell of an oily rag – but you’d hope and expect that Coriolis picks up other consultancy work through clearly being New Zealand’s best at this sort of thing.

Morris reckons he could book all his working days till Christmas with food and beverage companies wanting to know more. You could almost call him a type of Santa with presents of knowledge.