NZ primary sector the fuel for the post pandemic engine room

Bank of New Zealand’s (BNZ) Shift Happens Agribusiness survey reveals a significant change in the mindset of New Zealand primary producers with the vast majority excited about the primary sector’s prospects post COVID-19. 

The survey, conducted before and during the COVID-19 lockdown, found a marked shift in mindset of New Zealand’s primary producers whose pre-COVID-19 outlook improved from 58% positive about the opportunity to embrace a new future for their agribusiness, to 89% being excited about their pivotal role in supporting the New Zealand economy.

BNZ’s Shift Happens Agribusiness survey also found:

  • Less than 30% of primary producers accessed government support during or after lockdown
  • Managing water resources is front of mind for the horticulture industry and beef and sheep farmers who are concerned about the impacts of limits on water use and waterways management now (35%) and over the next five years (43%)
  • Dairy farmers are focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions with 39% likely to put a plan in place to reduce their emissions profile and more than a quarter actively planning to do so (27%)
  • Primary producers see quality as the most important consumer consideration with sustainability vaulting integrity, safety and price as the second most important over the next five years
  • More than half of primary producers anticipate deploying more technology in their agribusiness to deliver sustainability and quality through improved production management, financial reporting, soil efficiency and animal welfare
  • Mapping is used by more than half of farmers (52%) to increase productivity and manage inputs with cloud-based accounting also a commonly used technology on farm.

Dave Handley, BNZ General Manager Agribusiness, says New Zealand’s primary producers are encouraged by what they see as a return to the fundamentals of the New Zealand economy and how important their role is in the country’s rebuild.

He says, “COVID-19 was a kick in the guts for many, but a return to form for our primary producers. Farmers are excited about shouldering a large part of the responsibility to rebuild the economy and their prospects for the future.”

Handley says heightened awareness of essential services and food provision has increased understanding of what the primary sector means to New Zealand.

“For the first time, many New Zealanders experienced limited options on the supermarket shelves and not being able to purchase what they wanted. It forced people to reconsider our food system and reconnect with the pasture-to-plate supply chain.

“The farmers I talk to believe there’s been a softening in the urban / rural divide. More Kiwis now understand the important role of the primary sector to put food on the table and steer the economy out of recession,” he says.

100% Pure

Handley says New Zealand’s virus-free status coupled with its existing reputation for safe, sustainable, high quality food will be firmly in the sights of the global consumer.

“Consumers globally are hunting for health and seeking out items from countries that care for people, their environment and the products they produce. New Zealand is in the sweet spot.

“Globally, New Zealand’s reputation is strong. We’ve beaten the virus, our economy has started up more quickly than others and our reputation for safe, high quality nutrition remains undented.

“We’ve reclaimed the 100% Pure tag and we need to focus our efforts on leveraging these attributes in global markets now before the window closes,” he says.