Enabling the shift
The recent experience of both AgriSea and Zespri suggests a major shift in consumer expectations.
Their willingness to pay for quality products they can trust, that are healthy and have sustainability at their core will help support our primary sector during the recovery.
But as a producing nation, our commitment to sustainability needs to go beyond the wrapping and become integral to what it means to be New Zealand-made.
As the country’s largest rural lender, ANZ NZ has an important role to play in supporting and enabling this transition.
Our involvement with the Aotearoa Circle’s Sustainable Finance Initiative has meant we are developing new products that recognise environmental, social and governance risks, and mobilise capital ‘reward’ good practice.
We are also exploring a range of ideas from ‘green’ bonds to the use of on-farm data to ensure we recognise the sustainability value of productive assets.
One such sustainability-linked loan was signed last year between ANZ and dairy manufacturing company Synlait Milk.
The $NZ50 million four-year loan incentivises Synlait to continue to improve its environmental, social and governance performance.
ANZ NZ was also a founding partner in Mohio – The Climate Innovation Lab.
We see an increasing number of social and climate-conscious investors wanting their capital to do well by doing good.
Through our involvement with Mohio, we have been able to make a significant contribution to the development of new financial products for the forestry sector that aim to produce positive social and environmental outcomes in addition to financial returns.
An important part of any work in this area is developing sustainability standards that, along with reporting and verification, ensure any claims of sustainability, food safety and traceability are provable.
These standards will form the basis of any trust with consumers and are essential for any financing based on sustainability metrics.
From the experiences of Zespri and AgriSea over the last few months, Covid-19 is changing consumer priorities in a way that’s positive for New Zealand exporters.
The other lesson is that it’s happening very quickly, which underlines the importance of responsiveness by individual businesses, and the economy as a whole.
In taking advantage of this opportunity, we can not only serve consumers of our products better, but also use sustainability, health and well-being as a basis for building a stronger and more resilient future.