Red meat sector urged to take cue from Seafood NZ’s new narrative

Rural Exchange 04/08/2018

New Zealand’s red meat sector has been advised to take a cue from the seafood industry to improve its story to consumers.  

As plant-based proteins become increasingly available, the sector will be challenged by consumers who opt for more sustainable, natural products.

People should be out there telling their good stories all the time.

The sector’s challenge has not gone unnoticed, with last week’s Red Meat Sector Conference in Napier providing a panel discussion on reputation management.

But how can the sector shape the beef and lamb story?

Seafood NZ communications manager Lesley Hamilton faced a similar question at a time when the country’s seafood industry encountered fierce public scrutiny.

In 2016, the seafood sector was slammed after a report revealed decades of fish dumping, catch misreporting and other illegal behaviour.

“People do mess up occasionally,” Ms Hamilton admitted.

The sector scrambled into damage control in order to win back the public’s trust. In 2017, Seafood NZ launched “The Promise” campaign, where industry publicly promised to protect the environment and secure long-term sustainable fisheries.

The campaign was backed up by a Code of Conduct for the sector, which empowered fishing industry workers to reclaim their reputation, explained Ms Hamilton.

“We also admitted that we haven’t always got it right. It’s a pretty hollow promise if you haven’t already told people that you’re sorry that you haven’t always got it right in the past.”

Ms Hamilton advises that the red meat sector to take control of its story before it’s faced with a more serious public relations issue.

“People should be out there telling their good stories all the time, because if they don’t there’s a vacuum. And in that vacuum it will always be filled with people that don’t like what your industry is doing.”

Watch the full interview with Lesley Hamilton above.

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