During their week in New Zealand, the group met with leading members of the New Zealand agribusiness sector in Auckland, Tauranga, and Hamilton and attended the 51st Fieldays, the Southern Hemisphere’s premier agriculture event.
The group visited two farms over the week: Orakau Dairy Farm to see the production of cow milk and Spring Sheep Dairy Farm, which produces sheep milk.
Stella Wong, senior investment manager of Grass Green Group in Beijing, was surprised by the farms in New Zealand and how different they were from those back home.
Her job is focused on consumer goods in the food industry in China, mainly dairy food, nutrition, cooking condiments, packaged food, and cold chain logistics.
“In China the cows and sheep are fed in the shed so it’s not outdoors, it’s all indoors," she says.
“But what we are seeing here in New Zealand this week is that the cows are walking around the pastures… they are happy cows – it’s quite different.”
Xania Wong, wine consultant and founder of Xantana Wine Society in Hong Kong, was interested in the way kiwifruit is grown in New Zealand.
The group visited Zespri New Zealand to get an idea of the kiwifruit growing process, and the innovative ways research and development has created new kiwifruit species – such as popular golden variety.
Wong says, “The company that impressed me the most is probably Zespri because they are very big on innovation. For example they blend different species of kiwifruit to create new species.
“I also really like the way they work with growers in a co-op model and this could be applied to some growers in the wine world as well.”
Towards the end of their time in New Zealand, the entrepreneurs attended Fieldays in Mystery Creek, just outside of Hamilton. The four-day event is New Zealand’s premier agriculture event, bringing together all parts of the agriculture sector, from food to vehicles and artificial inseminators for dairy cows.
At Fieldays, the group got to see some of the most innovative agriculture products entering the market on a tour led by leading research and development funders Callaghan Innovation.
Discussions comparing organic and non-organic dairy were enthusiastically shared at the Organic Dairy Hub tent, New Zealand’s only 100 percent farmer owned organic dairy co-operative.
A highlight of their time at Fieldays was meeting New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Agriculture Hon Damien O’Connor, as well as world-known agricultural entrepreneur Sir William Gallagher, inventor of the electric fence.
The last event of the week was the Foundation’s Leadership Network Agribusiness Hui in Raglan. The seven entrepreneurs spent the day with ten Leadership Network members to discuss the agribusiness sector and chat about leadership and team building.
Morgan Maw, Founder of Bonnie Goods and participant of the Agribusiness Hui says she gained a lot of insight into the market in China from meeting the entrepreneurs.
"Hearing the priorities and values of the entrepreneurs from North Asia was like shaking the snow-globe of what I thought was important to a Chinese consumer," Maw says.
"For one, food safety is a given for New Zealand businesses and a basic necessity. However, we learnt that it's considered a unique selling point for Chinese consumers.”
The seven entrepreneurs were the first group from North Asia that the Foundation has brought to New Zealand, having previously focussed on Southeast Asia.
The Foundation’s director of leadership and entrepreneurship Adam McConnochie says, “We are excited to be moving into North Asia with our entrepreneurship programme. There are so many learnings that North Asian and New Zealand entrepreneurs can gain from visiting each other’s regions and businesses on trips like these.
“We have seen great success stories come out of our ASEAN Young Business Leaders’ Initiative and we are looking forward to more of the same in North Asia.”
The entrepreneurs who attended the Fieldays entrepreneurship trip were:
- Stella Wong, Senior Investment Manager of Grass Green Group
- Xania Wong, Founder of Xantana Wine Society
- Raymond Mak, Co-Founder and CEO of Farmacy HK
- Yu-De Lee, Founder and CEO of Tsaitung Agriculture
- Jui-Mei Lin, CEO of Lacewing Biotech
- Lili Duan, General Manager of Sichuan Zhong An Testing and General Manager of JinMan Tang Agricultural Development
- Nan Liu, Founder of Mia.com