How do we make sure we are good for the world?
By Jen Scoular
I have attended a couple of presentations from Simon Anhalt, a British researcher suggesting that countries or brands that are the best in the world should be best for the world. It is a great concept, and one which my Te Hono colleagues believe we should work towards as producers in this amazing country we live in. At the Zespri Momentum conference in February this theme was prevalent.
Carol Ward, who is featured in the women in horticulture article, is taking a fantastic leadership role to define the sustainability pathway for Zespri. Many already credit Zespri with being the best kiwifruit in the world, they are lifting the bar with their new strategy and prepared to set targets, measure progress and report against that progress.
The conference in Tauranga attracted nearly 700 people. The biggest part of the audience is kiwifruit growers, but they also invite a large number of their customers and supply chain partners. A big credit to Zespri for opening ticket sales to the likes of you and me. They are not just sharing achievements, but letting the audience in on their plans, and putting themselves up to be measured against pretty ambitious targets.
As a much smaller sector, we will learn from this, we will utilise their learnings as we put our own plans for avocados into place. But we have the opportunity to be much more efficient because Zespri are willing to share what their research is telling them, share the reactions of their consumers, who they have worked very hard to be close to, share their plans, and over time, will share their achievements.
I was fascinated in one session to hear from an Australian researcher who couldn’t believe how wonderful it was to breath fresh air on Mount Maunganui beach, after a blazing hot summer in Canberra. His statistics of how vulnerable the world is right now to climate change were compelling, and very scary. Niki Harre, an Auckland researcher shared data on what people value, and it was wonderful to see her word map highlight “love, kindness, happiness, family, laughter”.
But Ian Proudfoot then reported that New Zealand health statistics are second worst in the OECD, and we are eating ourselves to death with bad food choices and increasing rates of non-communicable diseases. He travels the world understanding food trends but highlighted his absolute desire to make sure we feed our 5 million population first, and make sure they share in the amazing produce we grow in New Zealand. This fitted well with the launch of Zespri’s new education programme for kids in schools, to educate on the need to eat for health. Five a Day have recently reported the programme serves 23 million servings of fresh fruit and vegetables to school kids across 551 schools. A magnificent achievement, but perhaps just a small step.
Last week I was up in Houhora in the far north, one of our significant and fast expanding avocado growing regions. I drove up from Whangarei, having not realised I booked this trip over Waitangi Day so the region was rather busier than usual. After a three hour drive I finally found a store where I needed to buy lunch. “Sorry love, just sold my last hot pie, but there are chips or ice creams.” I’m looking for something for lunch I suggested. Sorry she said, I can’t help you. That was the only store for 5 or 10 kms, on the main road to where our orchard workers, and families are travelling. And no healthy avocado goodies, no fresh fruit, not even a nice salad sandwich available, just pies or chips. We still have a long way to go New Zealand!