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By Peter Owens.
It’s not that long ago when almost all of the lambs processed in New Zealand went as carcasses in stockinet to the United Kingdom.
For many reasons this is no longer the case and an increasing amount of export lamb is being further processed into cuts in this country and exported as chilled product.
Geoff Allott, a former top New Zealand cricketer, has forged strong links with the Indian sub-continent. He noted that although India now has a rapidly expanding middle class with high disposable income, very few exports from New Zealand supply this emerging market.
Encouraged and supported by Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum and Stephen Fleming, all of whom have strong cricket relationships in India, Allott and business partner Geoff Thin spent three years researching the demands of the Indian market and preparing a business model for entry into that market. 
Stephen Fleming has had 20 years in India as a player and coach. His role as head coach of the Chennai Super Kings has provided great experience and networks and he adds significant value as a director of Quality New Zealand. 
Sir Richard Hadlee has recently become patron and a shareholder of Quality New Zealand. This is a significant addition to the company, given how well he is respected in India.
There have always been risks in exporting to India as the wool trade knows only too well. However, Allott and his advisers have found a way to retain control of product from when it leaves New Zealand until it is delivered to the Indian customer.
Allott compares the possibilities of the Indian market with China’s, which has rapidly expanded over the past ten years. He says that in researching the Indian market, his company is targeting upmarket hotels and restaurants, as well as the organised retail and food service sectors. The company has devised a different marketing strategy for each sector. 
Allott explains this is not only because of the rapidly expanding middle class with discretionary spending but because there is a demand for quality food, for which New Zealand has an excellent reputation. The Indian middle class sees an increase in protein consumption as important and sheep meat is recognised universally as being an excellent source of protein.
Quality New Zealand has also taken the unusual step of setting up an Indian company that has the protocols and capacity to import from New Zealand. This company is managed by Geoff Thin from an office in Bangalore.
Allott says he has developed business relationships with some of India’s top Indian restaurants and hotels, all of which were eager to add New Zealand lamb to their menus.
After considerable research in New Zealand, Quality New Zealand approached the Alliance Group with a partnership proposal to market the meat in India. The first major shipment of frozen New Zealand lamb has been sent and it consisted of cuts such as French racks, legs of lamb and lamb shanks. All of this exported meat is being sold under the Alliance Group’s Pure South brand, launched in October last year to the Indian food and hotel industry at a function held at the New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi. Orders were quickly forthcoming. 
CEO Geoff Thin says his company is well aware that it will take some time to establish a firm market for sheep meat in India but the New Dehli function was an extremely important first step.
Alliance Group marketing manager John Rabbitt says his company is well aware that the high standard of the initial shipment must be maintained if Quality New Zealand is to sustain an Indian market. He believes the Alliance Group has a major advantage in exporting; it has the global experience and knowledge through exporting to 65 countries. 
More products
“Apart from our sheep meat permits, we also have Indian import permits for New Zealand King Salmon,” says Allot. “We are currently looking at exporting a range of other products including fruit and vegetables, wine, seafood, honey, and dairy products.
“Quality New Zealand has already been approached by a range of companies interested in developing the Indian market. We’re taking a conservative approach to how we introduce these products, as we believe it is imperative to live the values associated with dealing in quality. 
“Naturally as we gain respect for these processes and products the demand for quantity and variety will increase from our customers.
We believe India represents a market big enough and diverse enough to focus our complete attention to. While that comes with risk, it also allows us to focus our resources, utilise our connections, and build strong long lasting relationships. We’re offering a long term commitment to the Indian market, which is something that many in the corporate world are not willing to do for a variety of reasons”. 
Peter Owens is a South Island based freelance writer.
Photo: Vettori, McCullum and Fleming with cartons of Alliance lamb imported into India by Quality New Zealand.
Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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