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NEWS -- Primary sector faces transformational era

NEWS -- Primary sector faces transformational era

To thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, NZ’s primary sector must constantly innovate to meet the rapidly-changing needs of consumers.


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To thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, New Zealand’s primary sector must constantly innovate and reinvent itself to meet the rapidly-changing needs of consumers.

The latest edition of KPMG’s Agribusiness Agenda has highlighted how the fusion of new digital and biotechnologies with traditional physical practices will place the agri-food sector at the centre of change.

Ian Proudfoot, KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness, says New Zealand’s primary sector must be prepared to completely transform itself – because the future will look radically different within 5-10 years.

“What has delivered us success in the past will not bring success in the future,” says Proudfoot.

“Change will be coming at speed from all quarters; including innovation from competitors, new disruptors entering the market, and changes demanded by our consumers.”

In preparing the Agenda, KPMG sought input from over 150 primary sector leaders during a series of roundtable discussions. Ian Proudfoot says the current dairy downturn has challenged leaders to think more deeply about their future.

“People are speculating over whether we’ve reached peak dairy, and focusing on how we can realise more value from the attributes of grass fed milk. They’re also thinking about the other available uses for the country’s land –particularly irrigated land – that may deliver higher returns in the future.”

Boosting the sector’s innovation capability was a key priority identified by sector leaders.

“There’s no shortage of good ideas in New Zealand – but we often lack the commercialisation skills to take the solution from the lab to the world market,” says Proudfoot.

“One suggestion is to create a standalone capital fund that takes early-stage investment positions in transformational technologies.”

Another important topic was the role of governance in our primary sector organisations. There is a concern that many boards have a disproportionate focus on risk and compliance, at the expense of growth strategies. The new era of disruption will also require people with fresh thinking and mission-critical skills – which may require some companies to rebalance the mix of skills available to the board.

Other themes highlighted as key priorities in the latest Agribusiness Agenda include:

  • There is a growing recognition among leaders that doing what is right by the environment is the only responsible course of action. Some industry leaders suggesting it is untenable for agriculture to remain outside the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in the medium term.
  • For the sixth Agenda in a row, biosecurity was again ranked as the number one priority by industry leaders, with leaders highlighting the need to focus on preventing risks from reaching our borders.
  • Industry leaders were in favour of the increased market access opportunities provided under the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement; and voiced concern over Labour’s apparent shift away from the long-held bipartisan approach to trade.
  • The Agenda calls for the creation of an independent body that will facilitate the ‘hard conversations’ the country needs to have. Such topics include New Zealand’s policy on genetic modification, future land use, the role of foreign investment, and intensification of farming.

© 2020 KPMG, a New Zealand partnership and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (KPMG International), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

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