New Zealand Embassy Brasilia, Brazil

Consul General in Sao Paulo, Jeff McAlister, is interviewed by Feira Mercocentro, 14 September 2011, Catanduva, São Paulo

Question: What is your view of the New Zealand dairy industry and expectations of the market?

Answer: The New Zealand dairy industry is a strongly export-oriented business, with less than five per cent of production consumed domestically. New Zealand is the world’s
largest exporter of dairy products, accounting for more than a third of the global market. Being such an important export industry for our country, dairy is closely intertwined with the rest of the economy. It drives many rural economies and makes a significant contribution to urban economies as well through the goods and services dairy farmers purchase for their on-farm operations. I would not want to predict the future of the dairy market, but at the present time the dairy industry is doing well as global demand increases, and historically in New Zealand's case dairy has been a secure and stable investment for our farmers, providing strong, consistent returns.

Q: In what ways is Brazil’s dairy industry similar to New Zealand’s?

A: Brazil, like New Zealand, is fortunate to have many natural advantages for the agricultural production, for example here too dairy cows are predominantly grass rather than grain fed as in other countries with less favourable climates. Since early times both our countries have had cultures of producing dairy products even though the consumption of milk in Brazil is much lower than in New Zealand. I feel at home here with the range of cheeses and I particularly like your gorgonzola and parmesan.

The largest New Zealand investment in Brazil is a joint venture between our dairy cooperative Fonterra and Nestlé, called Dairy Partners of America (DPA). Today DPA is the largest dairy processor in Brazil. One of its largest plants is located in São Paulo state, in Aráras. Other groups of New Zealand farmers are investing in dairy farms: Leite Verde in Bahia and Kiwi Pecuária in Goiás. These farms are a fusion between New Zealand technology and know-how, and the technology, experience and productive capacity of Brazil. The results are significant: the productivity per hectare at Leite Verde in Bahia is more than twice as high as the average productivity per hectare of New Zealand farms. This example shows what we can achieve together.

Q: How do you see the importance of participating in events and speeches?

A: A lot of Brazilians I meet think New Zealand is a very attractive and interesting country they would like to visit one day as a tourist or student, and we really value this flow of people. Others see New Zealand as a long way away, but in fact it is not much longer from here than parts of North America and Europe. In any case, New Zealand is much for than just a destination for Brazilians to travel to. We see significant opportunities for New Zealand and Brazilian companies to invest in our two countries particularly in partnerships that maximize our respective advantages, as the New Zealand investments in dairy farms in Brazil, and the Petrobras investment in New Zealand, show. There are also opportunities for our companies to increase the trade in goods, particularly around agritechnology, specialised manufacturing, and food and beverage.

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