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The rise of the conscious consumer sees growing demand for New Zealand’s food exports to the Middle East

New Zealand strengthens presence at Gulfood 2020 as leading sustainable food and beverage producer
Trade is increasing between New Zealand and the GCC, as consumers move towards more environmentally conscious eating habits.
Trade is increasing between New Zealand and the GCC, as consumers move towards more environmentally conscious eating habits.

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With more consumers in the Middle East paying attention to the impact of their food choices, New Zealand is well placed to meet the increasing demand for ethically and sustainably sourced products. As one of the world’s most progressive agricultural and aqua cultural nations, the country is recognised globally for its leadership in sustainable farming, production and nutrition. At Gulfood 2020, where the focus is on ‘Rethinking Food’ for the next 25 years, New Zealand food and beverage companies will highlight how their sustainability measures play an important role in the global food offering.

New Zealand has a reputation for high quality natural produce and environmental sustainability. The New Zealand food sector produces enough food to feed more than 20 million people, around five times its population.  In addition, New Zealand dairy products feed around 40 million people globally. According to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, the country’s economic and trade promotion agency, top exports to the Middle East include dairy, meat, fruits and seafood. New Zealand meat exports to the Middle East enjoyed a combined annual growth rate of 7% over the last five years, while fruit exports grew at nearly 9% over the same period. New Zealand exports of fish and other seafood products have doubled since 2018.

The country’s temperate climate, high rainfall, clean waters, fertile soil and low population density offer ideal conditions for premium food and beverage production. But it is New Zealand’s environmental ethos of “kaitiakitanga”, a Māori word which loosely translates as “guardianship and care for people and place”, that governs the nation’s and its producers’ sustainable food production efforts.

“When you buy New Zealand’s premium food and beverages, you know exactly what you’re getting and how it’s made. We’re proud to be one of the world’s most trusted suppliers, a reputation we also enjoy in the Middle East. The superior quality of our foods, our stringent health and safety regulations as well as our pioneering sustainability polices have earned us this position. Gulfood is one of the biggest events for the New Zealand business community in the Middle East and it’s a great opportunity to share our values, in particular how kaitiakitanga emphasizes the deep kinship between our people and the environment. We’re very excited to bring this relationship to life with some cutting edge mixed-reality experiences, one of the first for Gulfood and the region too, I believe,” said Kevin McKenna, New Zealand’s Consul General in Dubai.

New Zealand’s stringent food safety and biosecurity measures have earned the island nation a global reputation as a trusted supplier of quality products and ingredients to many of the world’s major food and beverage companies. New Zealand has a number of agencies, regulations and initiatives in place to sustainably manage the country’s natural environment, manage fish stocks, and ensure animal welfare standards are maintained. Its sustainable fisheries initiative and Quota Management System is considered among the best in the world. The country also ranks 17th on the Environmental Performance Index, a benchmark of environmental health and ecosystem vitality in 180 countries.

According to Deloitte’s 2019 Future of Food report, conscious consumerism is a trend that is gathering pace globally. Greater knowledge sharing, enabled by technology, is providing consumers with the tools to seek out information about the food they consume. They are actively seeking ethically-conscious and sustainable products, and choosing brands that support social issues that resonate with their beliefs.[3]

This year New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has brought 10 of its leading food and beverage companies to Gulfood. Among them is seafood company Sanford Limited which has aligned its sustainability strategy with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The company has launched a plastic reduction programme called ‘WHATPLASTIC?’ which aims to develop innovative packaging solutions and phase out all plastic from its retail operations.

Blossom Hill Farm, will be launching its ‘Hatuma’ Pea Protein Vegan Milk product, an innovation in the area of functional foods – foods that offer benefits beyond basic nutrition. The milk was developed with Massey University’s Food Innovation Team to support Blossom Hill Farm in positively disrupting the category. Functional foods is one of the fastest growing segments of the global food industry, expected to reach US $54 billion as consumers seek food and beverages that offer validated health claims. Hatuma contains five times the amount of protein as most almond milks and has the same calcium as dairy. 

At the Dairy Pavilion, Canary will present its zero-waste butter products for the food service industry, while one of New Zealand’s top dairy manufacturers Open Country Dairy will showcase its high quality milk fats, milk powders, milk proteins and cheeses. For companies interested in F&B trading, digital trading company Nui will be on hand to discuss trading investment options. At the World Foods Pavilion, health and wellness will also be in focus with companies like Profile Foods, Seriously Smoothies, GreenMount, Egmont Honey, seafood company Sanford Limited and apple grower Rockit presenting foods that are big on nutrition and convenience.

Commenting on New Zealand’s commitment to sustainability, Tony Martin, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise Regional Director for the Middle East, India & Africa said: “As changing consumer preferences drive a shift to more ethical food and drink products, New Zealand F&B companies are well placed to meet this demand. Our ongoing efforts to become leaders in sustainability, food safety, traceability, and animal welfare have gained us international recognition and accolades, but more important than this, is our ability to always strive to contribute in the most ethical way to feeding the planet by continuing to push for improvements at home and abroad.”

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