In March, Green Meadows Beef began fortnightly shipments to the Southeast Asian hub, supplying a business catering to the home-delivery market.
The business relationship started after a meeting at a New Zealand Trade and Enterprise food event in Singapore, says Green Meadows co-founder and managing director Nick Carey.
Not the sort of function to simply rock up to, Nick was given the chance to be on a table to showcase his products as part of a network-building field trip for young Kiwi entrepreneurs working in the food industry, organised by the Foundation.
“We got pulled along by the big guys. Even though we were such small companies, we were on show with companies much larger than us, which enabled us to make those connections from the get-go.”
Nick Carey made important business connections on a trip to Singapore in 2017
The trip accelerated their export journey, Nick says.
“I wouldn’t have gone to that event in Singapore without being on that Asia New Zealand Foundation trip. So, while the connection may have been made later, it’s certainly come about sooner and it enabled us to begin to export sooner as well.”
The Carey farm, beneath the gaze of Mt Taranaki, is farmed by Nick’s dad Joe, and his father before him, but Green Meadows Beef is a fresh concept, started in 2012.
At its core, the idea is of paddock to plate, connecting consumers straight to their food sources, Nick says.
The Careys raise their Angus cattle the old-fashioned way – the animals aren’t confined, they have access to fresh pasture each day, when they do eat silage or hay, it’s been grown on the farm, and they drink natural spring water good enough to bottle. Butchering is kept in-house, which allows the family total control of their product.
This production story is an important factor in their fledgling success in Singapore.
“The proviso (with the customer) is it’s all Angus beef that we farm ourselves, so the meat is all traceable back to the one farm.”
In a market where food and beverage safety scandals make daily news headlines, trustworthy food sources are a precious commodity.
In Singapore, the business that Green Meadows supplies has twice daily deliveries to its own customers. Its tagline: Food products from suppliers it trusts.
It’s a good fit for Green Meadows Beef, says Nick.
“We’re certainly looking for other similar opportunities in Southeast Asia at the moment to build on the momentum that we currently have in Singapore.”
In particular, the company is looking to Hong Kong and Japan.
What undoubtedly pays off, is getting on the ground in the region, Nick says.
“Being immersed in market is extremely valuable, whether you intend to supply a particular market or not.”
From knowing what questions need to be asked when working with distributors, to understanding margins and getting a feel for what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to flavours and packaging, a supply agreement wasn’t the only positive takeaway from his Foundation trip, Nick says.
And, a jaunt to Southeast Asia with other like-minded Kiwis, well there’s plenty of other plusses too.
“Obviously, it was a lot of fun as well, trying food… particularly in Penang when we were in Malaysia… it had all those benefits from a cultural perspective as well.
“Having the opportunity to network with contacts in the industry from Asia, but also the New Zealanders going on the trips as well. It’s hugely valuable to create that support network or care network from similar producers.”
Nick Carey travelled to Singapore and Malaysia in 2017 with the Asia New Zealand Foundation, on an ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative trip funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.