David Clendon
Wake up call for NZ exporters

If Kiwi businesses are to stay in the international retail game they need to get serious about adopting environmental and sustainable business practices. This is the message coming loud and clear from research revealed by major British retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S).

M&S says environmental and social issues remain important to UK consumers. A survey commissioned by M&S found that 72% of people surveyed are worried about environmental issues, with 73% saying that the recession had not changed their level of concern.

The commissioned research is part of a huge initiative that M&S announced back in 2007 to become the world’s most sustainable retailer by 2015. More simply referred to as ‘Plan A’. As, to quote M&S, there is no Plan B.

 M&S’s ‘Plan A’ eco-commitments include:

  • converting 2.7 billion food, clothing and home items to meet the plan’s sustainability standards
  • encouraging 10,000 food supplying farmers to adopt a sustainable foods programme

UK customers, along with the rest of the world, will be looking more and more for sustainability credentials in the products they choose to buy. Unless NZ businesses start respecting this they will not be able to access high value overseas markets in the future. The previous Government provided a level of funding and other support through the Ministry for the Environment, local authorities and organisations promoting and supporting sustainable business. The current Government would do well to reinstate and indeed increase that funding to ensure we are not left on the sidelines when it comes to international exports. A point clearly expressed in the Green Party’s sustainable business policy.

‘Sustainability’ may have been declared a word that government policy makers may not utter, but in the meantime the rest of the world, not least of all the business sector, is getting on with the real challenge of making their production and consumption patterns more sustainable.

Something has to change and while the Government seems unwilling to take the lead on this massive issue, the best and brightest of our businesses, farmers, producers, will take their future into their own hands and start practicing business the way it should be.

2 thoughts on “Wake up call for NZ exporters

  1. There was an interesting article on sustainable businesses in Southland recently, which showed that UK chains like ‘Marks & Sparks’ & Tesco’s are paying premium for NZ organic product (might have been in one of Jeanette’s Green Business news-sheets) which confirmed for me that we are still doing our best work for buyers overseas, when it comes to primary produce.

    Lamb available in London has generally been of a better quality than the stuff we got in supermarkets here, a fact that dismayed my english (ex)-mother-in-law when she first arrived in Wellington in 1977. She had to go quite out-of-the-way to find the same quality of lamb shoulder roasts that she’d been buying in England, and still holds her membership of the club of ‘women who know where to find the good butcher’, which contains a majority of Brisih ex-pat’s and aims for an exclusive mebership so that their butcher always has meat when they want it.

    It’s a shame that more businesses don’t understand the benefits to their word-of-mouth clientele of having good, sustainable business practice – they’d spend a lot less on advertising if they just focussed on getting a good product going!

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