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Thursday 30 June 2022

E Tipu 2021: Geoff Ross on tailwinds, customers and connections

12th May 2021 By Bridget O'Connell | bridget@foodticker.co.nz | @foodtickernz

Consumers globally want to connect with the source of their food and fibre, so if you are selling a food product get on top of it, stat.

Geoff Ross

Speaking at the E Tipu Boma Summit at Christchurch Town Hall, 42 Below founder and serial entrepreneur Geoff Ross said that this massive change in consumer behaviour would drive a preference for products, and New Zealand needed, and was well-positioned, to be at the front of it.

Changing consumer preferences was one of a number of “tailwinds” the now-owner of Lake Hawea Station talked about – and how responding to these tailwinds delivered him success when developing consumer products, including the vodka brand 42 Below, which he sold to drinks giant Bacardi for $138m in 2006.

“The macro trend worldwide is that consumers now want to connect with the source of their food and fibre,” Ross said.

“They want to go beyond just the process or the wholesaler or the group that bought you their food or fibre, they want to go right back to where it all started and look in your backyard literally.

“Now the cool thing about New Zealand’s backyard is that we have a bloody good looking backyard so we have an advantage there.”

Speaking to the Ticker, Ross said while this was important for farmers, it was “even more important” for those producing food products.

“Really know what your customers want, so the challenge we all have in New Zealand is really understanding our global customers. Without doing a mega amount of research, you can try and connect directly with some of the key buyers in your sector.

“For us [at Lake Hawea Station] it is wool. New Zealand Merino has been fantastic – they have helped us connect with Allbirds and key brands and you get a real sense of what they are after and that can help drive strategy back here.”

As well as having a “bloody good looking backyard,” Ross told the 500-strong audience at E Tipu that New Zealand was facing the biggest opportunity in farming since refrigerated shipping, in the form of becoming carbon neutral – or indeed going further by becoming carbon positive.

He said the demand for a lower carbon footprint especially in food and fibre is driven by the climate change crisis.

 

 


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