A rapidly changing world

By Jen Scoular, March 2020

It is a rapidly changing world and I’m sure many of you are receiving daily and twice daily updates about COVID19. We appreciate the agility of the government, agencies and businesses to respond to this, to isolate New Zealanders as well as we can, from the corona virus.

We are always aware that our own business or industry must be agile, and the times ahead will test every one of us on that front. As a small avocado exporter in the world we need to not only determine where we can market our avocados, but must understand where the large players will be diverting their fruit if some markets are closed for them, and they must find alternative destinations for their much larger volumes of avocados.

Our sustainability discussion has already changed slightly, what does sustainability mean in such a changing world? We would have said that we endure for the long term, but right now the short term is taking all our attention.

We are very much enjoying the engagement and feedback from avocado growers at sustainability workshops we are hosting across our growing regions. There are good debates, new ideas coming out, and great suggestions that would support the communities around avocados. One grower suggested he would rather give his “ugly” avocados, those that don’t make the grade purely for aesthetic reasons, to a local school, than get a small financial return for processing or oil. Others at the meeting have suggested they’d like to re-group again, for further discussion, about sustainability but also to learn from each other about our industry and the very complex topic of how to produce a consistent, high yield from avocados. In none of these conversations are we doing it alone.

As a smallish industry, we are very happy to listen and learn from the bigger players, particularly those in horticulture. We are certainly utilising the learnings from the Primary Sector Council, and strongly endorse their vision for New Zealand primary industries to be fit for a better world. I really like the concept too that we break the huge topic of sustainability down, and appreciate the suggestion from Zespri’s Carol Ward that we look at what steps we can individually take, every day, to move ahead on the sustainability pathway. We may have long been happy to hang our towels back on the rail in a hotel room so they are not changed, but I’m now trying not to use more than one rubbish bin (or none and all) because I’m sure the plastic bag within each bin is chucked out when the room is cleaned.

We had a brilliant description of an enduring brand at the Better by Design conference last week. Brian Collins, the co-founder a brand and experience design firm based in San Francisco, told us to close our eyes and imagine we were back in 1720 on a sailing ship heading home to Spain, having picked up a whole shipload of goods from South America. In the distance we see another vessel and assume they too are heading home with full cargo, until we get closer and realise too late they have hoisted the pirate flag. 300 years later, that brand has not changed. It still instils fear and action – drop your valuables and get the heck out of here. But that wasn’t all, the pirates on that pirate ship were sailors themselves, right up to the point the flag was raised. They weren’t fighting amongst themselves, they were sailing the vessel. So that brand applies not just to external parties, but internally, that flag meant those sailors suddenly becme pirates.

It is a great thought – not only how resilient is our brand, but to really think about how that brand makes you feel yourself, what promises are you undertaking, as part of the brand delivery?

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