NZ trade envoy to bust myths about New Zealand in Europe, UK

Rural Exchange 19/05/2018

Brexit and trade negotiations are just a few of the hot issues that will inevitably affect New Zealand’s primary sector in the near future.

That’s precisely why Mike Petersen, the country’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, is heading to Europe next week.

Mr Petersen joined Rural Exchange’s Sarah Perriam after speaking at the Deer Industry Conference 2018 to discuss what his aim is for his Euro-trip.

“This is part of the advocacy that we really need to keep working on, to make sure New Zealand is not forgotten in the Brexit process and the new trade agreements we are trying to put together.”

His trip will involve discussing Brexit, meeting with critical agriculture leaders in the region, and speaking at a dairy event about New Zealand’s reforms and lessons learned from them.

And a big part of Mr Petersen’s job will be busting preconceptions Europeans may have about New Zealand products.

“There are so many myths about New Zealand – that we’re a large country in the South Pacific, and can produce very cheap food, and can flood the world’s markets.”

Mr Petersen plans to simple tell it as it is, informing Europeans what NZ is and what it isn’t.

Net zero carbon by 2050

With the Government’s lofty goal of getting to net zero carbon by 2050, many farmers have expressed concern over the reality of such a goal for the primary sector.

But Mr Petersen believes that New Zealand’s farmers will need to try to get on board.

“The sector needs to understand what that really means,” he told Rural Exchange.

Mr Petersen applauded Green Party co-leader James Shaw for his willingness to help farmers in their transition to net zero carbon.

“But don’t get me wrong, this is going to be incredibly difficult,” he said. “But in my view we have to have a crack at it.”

Alternative proteins

When Perriam brings up France’s new legislation around alternative protein products, Mr Peterson cuts straight to the chase.

The measure will ban vegetable-based products to be marketed as meat substitutes (by using words like “milk” or “meat” in branding), which Mr Peterson said “has some validity”.

“But at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s the big issue,” he told Rural Exchange.

For Mr Petersen, the real issue is how to promote the cow’s milk that New Zealand produces.

“I think it’s more about how you have a brand that is authentic, and how you promote that to consumers.”

Watch the full interview with Mike Petersen above.

Watch Mike Petersen's full presentation on how we need to stay ahead of the game at the 2018 Deer Industry Conference here.

Rural Exchange with Hamish McKay, Sarah Perriam and Richard Loe, 5-7am Saturday and Sunday on RadioLIVE with Carter’s Tyre Service. Click here for all the ways to watch and listen.