• John Luxton
Associate Minister of Agriculture

Associate Minister of Agriculture, Hon John Luxton today said in a speech marking the twenty fith year of the Massey University Meat Diploma course, that the biggest continuing threat to the meat industry and agriculture in general is politics.By politics I mean industry politics, national politics and international politics, the Minister said.

The meat industry is riddled with internal industry politics. Unfortunately a key focus of those politics has been to allocate blame for non performance. The meat companies, the Meat Board, the Government, and the value of the dollar are frequently found to be handy as scapegoats.

This provides a major distraction from getting on with the job of marketing to the needs, wants and desires of the end consumer various parts of the world. This is where your course, the Diploma in Meat Technology has a big contribution to make.

The New Zealand meat industry needs to use its energies constructively rather than to self destruct through trying to apportion blame. The focus for the future must be market and customer oriented, it must be forward thinking and it must be positive if the industry is to succeed.

We cannot afford to be ideological, say that things cannot change, and that we must hang on to the political responses at all costs. This heads in the sand approach is shortsighted. And a big threat to the future of the industry. It is this view that ensures we continue to sell some of our world beating meat product as a commodity and with it fluctuating and ever reducing prices.

This view assumes that nothing changes. But there is nothing more certain than change. I am sure that the diploma teaches dramatically different courses today than 25 years ago. While the basic qualities of meat have stayed the same, our knowledge and ability to enhance it have changed along with rapid changes in the rest of society and consumer preferences

In today's market, competitive forces change and cause innovation at an ever increasing pace. The more competitive the local environment the greater the likelihood of leadership in the international marketplace. This is something too many of our primary producers have yet to recognise as they seek political instead of market solutions.

The consumer wants a meal not a meeting. Lets get rid of the politics out of the meat industry, and instead concentrate on providing the consumer with a delicious meal

But Politics does have some part to play internationally, but the key to success in the meat industry is to get the consumer on the side of your product, rather than the politician on the side of your argument.

Red meat faces considerable competition in many markets not only from other nations' products but also from competing products such as poultry meat and pork. In addition there can also be various barriers to trade erected by other countries that we have to overcome. The Government is very active in working to overcome these issues, Mr Luxton concluded.