Coronavirus crisis: Never waste a crisis as time to adapt and innovate

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People ride the Staten Island Ferry, Tuesday, April 21, 2020, in New York.
Camera IconPeople ride the Staten Island Ferry, Tuesday, April 21, 2020, in New York. Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP

One of New Zealand’s top agriculture analytic advisers says in a time of crisis, adaptation will ensure the survival of farming sector businesses.

New Zealand Exchange head of analytics Julia Jones said world consumer attention towards agriculture had turned to safety and trust as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is food and fibre supply-chain insecurity for export as borders shut down and it has also highlighted the limitations on produce distribution within countries,” she told last Thursday’s neXtgen Agri’s Head Shepherd Virtual Conference.

“The agriculture sector needs to understand the shifting consumer.”

Ms Jones said consumers were experiencing behaviour changes, wanting a more natural product thinking that all other options had potential risk of disease.

“This could draw more of consumers’ attention to avoid factory, or intense farming systems including feedlots or animals held in a confinement versus free-range,” she said.

New Zealand Exchange head of analytics Julia Jones.
Camera IconNew Zealand Exchange head of analytics Julia Jones. Credit: Supplied

“They will also desire more evidence of digital traceability of where their food comes from.”

However, she said disruption brought “big opportunity”.

“It is a time to bring in new ideas to re-design the food and fibre sectors’ business models,” she said.

Ms Jones said this required constant review and trying new random ideas in a time when people were more open to them,

“It’s a time to re-define the food narrative, which requires great humility.

“We need to remind people that food and natural fibre production makes a healthy planet and when the environment is well, so are the people.”

Ms Jones said agriculture would need to act more effectively as the new normal takes hold.

“Be positive, think of the beautiful new things we will create out of this crisis,” she said.

“Hope was that a new generation of farmers would all find motivation to move in the right direction.”

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