For many of us in the horticulture industry its trade show season! This got me thinking… what do you get out of attending these types of events? I think it is plain to see.
Firstly, these events get you out of your own patch, you get the chance to listen to inspirational speakers that make you lift your head up and look at your world with a whole lot more perspective and knowledge - which in turn enables a clearer path forward, or at the very least makes us relook at our path and refocus.
The intelligence and factual insights that a great speaker can give is priceless. Whether it be the Fieldays, local trade shows, or even the rest of the world, it’s great to see and talk to others with a common goal – sustainable growth.
I recently listened to Lain Jager (ex-Zespri CEO and currently Chairman of the Primary Sector Council) and throughout his speech I wrote down ONE phrase - “Prosperity and Sustainability”. One can’t flourish without the other and this is a challenge facing us all. Whether you are a grower, packer, marketer or supplier, it’s how we all go about it consciously that is crucial, keeping those two words in mind help to focus on our purpose. Prosperity and Sustainability.
Another speaker of interest for me (from the recent Summer Fruit conference) was Winstone Chee. Winstone was born in Pukekohe and raised on a market garden and is now Vice President of Fresh Foods Retail Operations - Hypermarkets for Walmart, based in China. Quite a title!
What a perspective he put on “gate to plate”! What was amazing was the sheer scale of the operation and the automation that is part of the “norm” that enables Walmart to deliver goods to customers within an hour of ordering. It’s clear we have a little further to go in our industry to emulate this type of logistical automation.
Another key theme at the same conference came from Mike Petersen, was one of not taking the Asian market for granted. The message was for Kiwi exporters to respect their culture and the way they do business. It’s all about relationships and, as we all know, nobody likes being taken for granted.
Work on those trading relationships, stay connected (through events like trade shows and conferences) and expanding into other areas of the world to supply our remarkable produce. “Value add” where ever possible to maximise returns from niche markets.
So, what’s my message today?