The commercial risks of infant formula

[This post was first published in the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times on 28 September 2014]

In the last six years the Chinese infant formula market has grown threefold to about $NZ18 billion. Some projections suggest it could double again within the next six or so years. So the challenge is not the size of the market. Rather, the challenge is that everyone is trying to get a slice of it. Continue reading

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New Zealand’s dairy opportunities in China

This is the fourth in the ‘China series’ of articles written for the journal  Primary Industry Management by Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock and myself. It was published in September 2013.

As with other products to China, the statistics have moved on in the last year but the drivers of change are similar.

In the last year since the Primary Industry Management paper was written,  New Zealand’s total dairy exports to China have increased from $NZ2.9 billion for the 12 months ending 30 June 2013, to NZ6.05 billion for the 12 months ending 30 June 2014. These numbers will almost certainly decline in coming months, not because of a decline in volume, but from the current major downturn in prices.

The latest prices from our industry sources in China indicate that local farm gate prices for milk are still exceptionally high. Average quality milk is being purchased by processors for about 4.3 RMB per litre. That equates to over $NZ 13 per kg milksolids. Good quality milk  is close to $NZ16 per kg milksolds. Continue reading

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Doing agribusiness in China

This is the third of a series of six papers written for the journal ‘Primary Industry Management’. This one was published in June 2013.

For this paper we had three authors: Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock, Malcolm Cone and myself. The work was led by Sharon and formed the first part of her PhD studies.  It is based on case study work undertaken with New Zealand firms operating in China.

The focus of the work has been on cultural differences and how they affect business practices and relationships. About half the interviews were with Kiwis and undertaken in English. The other half were with Chinese and mainly undertaken in the Chinese language. Continue reading

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Sheep meat in China and the opportunities for New Zealand

This is the second of the “China series’  that Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock and I wrote for the journal  ‘Primary Industry Management’. It was written in December 2012 and published in March 2013.

As with everything relating to China, the statistics do not stand still.  In the year ending December 2012, 13% of New Zealand’s sheep meat exports income came from China. Move forward six months, and in the 12 months ending June 2013 this had risen to 21%. Then in the 12 months to June 2014 it rose again to 30%.  On a monthly basis, the latest statistics for March 2014 show the China component of New Zealand’s sheep meat trade was 31% by value and 44% by volume. Continue reading

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Agri-food opportunities in China

Over the last two years I have written, together with my colleague Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock,  a series of six articles on various aspects of China’s  agri-food industries. They have been published in the Journal Primary Industry Management, which is the quarterly journal of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management.

The first article, attached at the bottom of this post, was written in late 2012. Continue reading

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Biofuels versus food production

[This post was first published in the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times on 21 September, 2014]

There is an inevitable tension between using crops for biofuel or for food. In working out the capacity of the world to feed itself in the future, the demand for biofuel is an essential part of the equation.

In the last ten years, the global quantity of biofuels has more than doubled. The big question is where will it go in the next ten years? It is widely agreed that biofuels are a key reason why grain prices have been much higher in this current decade than in the previous decade. Continue reading

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It all depends on China

[This post was first published in the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times on 14 September 2014]

New Zealand agribusiness, led by dairy, has hit a rough spot. Some will see this as confirmation that dependence on China involves big risks. More important, is the need to recognise that China is also the solution. Continue reading

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