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Giving customer’s a world-first advantage in China

27 May 2019
By Francis Davy - NZTE Coalition Manager
TMALL web

With most food products sold into China imported via third party distributors, it’s no secret that New Zealand producers have few opportunities to interact directly with end consumers and profitably operate their own flagship stores on e-commerce platforms. Enter New Zealand Food Basket, an NZTE-facilitated coalition of 18 of our most respected food and beverage brands who have launched the first country flagship store on Alibaba’s Tmall Fresh e-commerce platform. Backed by a unique coalition FernMark licence, New Zealand Food Basket is marketing and selling over 200 SKUs to Chinese consumers under their collective brand. Together, their objective is to become the preferred online retail destination for discerning Chinese consumers of premium New Zealand food and beverage products.   

As Nicola O’Rourke, GM at Lewis Road Creamery and Chairperson of New Zealand Food Basket Ltd, puts it, the coalition creates a single doorway that “directly connects us to affluent Chinese consumers”, adding the move will “significantly improve our reach and shorten the supply chain in a way that each brand simply couldn’t achieve alone”.  

To further reinforce the collective nature of the store, all products purchased from the store will be bundled and packaged in New Zealand Food Basket branded packaging for delivery to the consumer. 

Impressive following

Of course, the proof is in the pudding. In the first two weeks of operation, the store has attracted 7000 followers! 

Meet the Food Basket members 

Justin Hall, Managing Director of Smartfoods, says New Zealand Food Basket enables his company to reach different consumers through collaboration with complimentary products. He says New Zealand Food Basket “reinforces our strong country of origin story, by linking Vogel’s with other iconic New Zealand brands”. 

So, who are the other iconic New Zealand brands? An initial group of nine brands – Pic’s Peanut Butter, Babich Wines, Vogel’s, Rockit apple, Future Cuisine, Pāmu, Zealong Tea Estate, Fiordland Lobster and Oha Honey – began sales through New Zealand flagship store on Tmall Fresh on 18 April. In the next four months, a further nine brands Zespri, Sanford, Kāpiti, Lewis Road Creamery, Sealord, Pure South (Alliance Group), Shott Beverages, New Zealand Wild Catch, and Cherri will join the ranks and the coalition is actively prospecting new eligible suppliers to join over the coming year.  

New Zealand Food Basket Ltd said uniting the companies under a common New Zealand brand story, with support from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and a unique FernMark licence, will build trust among Chinese consumers who prioritise food safety and quality.

Going live 

While most of New Zealand was getting set to embark on a long Easter break, in China, the team was gearing up for the official launch of New Zealand Food Basket. Business leaders from the coalition, together with senior representatives from Tmall Fresh and Food, Yiguo (TP) and Alibaba gathered in Shanghai for the launch. Speeches were made by New Zealand Consul-General Andrew Robinson, Alibaba Group Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Maggie Zhou, and Managing Director of Smartfoods, Justin Hall (who also plays an important role as a Director of New Zealand Food Basket).   

A key highlight of the evening was the signing of an MoU between New Zealand Food Basket and Tmall Fresh. Chinese media were well represented and the launch generated strong coverage in national media such as Xinhuanet.

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