Rural News reports that farming leaders are astounded by the statistics which show New Zealand imports 40% or our total food needs and 70% of processed food.
They are much higher than expected, says Federated Farmers’ Meat and Fibre chairman Bruce Wills.
It sounds very high,’ Wills says, adding, ‘The ‘buy Kiwi made’ campaign people should be measuring the impact of this.’The still-high dollar ‘must be playing a big part in those numbers’. And high local labour costs will also be a factor.
‘I would like to see a breakdown of those figures. These may be value-added products that we are importing. We as a farming nation must keep an eye on this and make more effort to make the products ourselves.’
I don’t necessarily agree there is a problem with these numbers, nor that we need to make more effort to process more of our produce here.
While we are very good at producing meat, dairy produce and some fruit, vegetables and grains we can’t grow rice or bananas and a lot of other food that we need.
We also need to consider economics. If we receive more for our products on overseas markets then both producers and the country are better off if we supply international markets rather than the domestic one.
And we must also take production costs into account. At first glance it seems a bit silly to export the raw produce, process it and import the finished product. But if that can be done at a lower cost while meeting food health and safety standards without compromising quality then it makes sense.
I prefer to buy fresh food and local food is usually fresher; I also support local businesses where I can. But as an exporting nation our wealth depends on people in other countries buying our produce and we would be the losers if they start demanding their own local produce rather than ours.