By Daimien Reynolds
Beef and Lamb Nick Beeby is an old friend of mine, who I have had the pleasure of working with back in the day when keeping the tractors on their wheels and finding a beer at the end of the day were our only worries. Sometimes we failed on both accounts. But now Nick has far more important work to do, he is the Manager of Emerging Markets for Beef and Lamb and oversees the Taste Pure Nature programme in the US and China, of which Angus Pure is a participating partner. He has been very close to developments in both markets as Covid 19 affects them, and says that what happened in China is now unfolding in the US, except much worse.
The Taste Pure Nature Partners piloted the campaign in retail stores in China 2 days before Covid really hit the press there, about 9 January. Interestingly, after the dust had settled, those retailers are extending the program, with one chain introducing product in over 200 stores. The retailers see the relevance of the value proposition and are prepared to invest in it.
In both China and the US, notwithstanding the consumer side, the supply chains and logistics were in total chaos. China went through it and has by and large returned to normal. However, in the US, it is currently total disruption (and will be for a long time as Covid 19 waves go through, summer passes and winter comes). In terms of slaughter houses and cool stores, many have closed due to staff having Covid 19. One pork plant producing 4% of the country’s pork had to close, having a massive effect on pork supply and distribution. One sniff of Covid 19 in the personnel and the facility is closed. Ports shut, not enough trucks, the woes just carry on.
But New Zealand product is moving, and our export companies have been very resourceful at finding another route when one closes. New Zealand product is considered safe, and is going to benefit in time with the increase in volume going through webdirect channels.
On the consumer side, Nick says consumers return to what they know in times like this. In China it was Pork, in the US beef. Interestingly, with an interest in improving immunity function, some Chinese have turned to red meat in line with traditional medicine, March volumes of New Zealand product to China are ahead of March 19! In the US, there is such a shortage that any beef is selling, and lamb cuts normally for the restaurant are selling better ground as one pound bricks – insatiable demand for this. New Zealand beef has never been that strong in the Sates in the retail sector, there has been new interest in it and going forward hopefully the interest converts to sustained demand.
In the US, the brand campaign is progressing cautiously. In December 19 a group of influencers were hosted in New Zealand, with a focus on the natural aspects of the products and value propositions, especially grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone free meat. Obviously things have gone askew, however, the campaign is consumer focused at a time when there are also strong consumer led movements towards more natural products, including interest in glyphosate free products and regenerative farming. Talking with Nick, the common theme between these stories is reinforced. It seems New Zealand could be well positioned in the future to produce food for these markets, to satisfy a growing demand for safe, natural food. What we need is leadership to pull together the vital parts of a good brand: the product, distribution, marketing and price; so it is great Angus Pure, our brand, is involved with Beef and Lamb in this respect – and we as beef breeders and producers, need to focus on the right product if we want the premiums!