New Zealand Food & Beverage Month in Beijing catches up with Beijing-based Alex Worker, Director of Marianas Group, to talk about the mood on the ground in China in the wake of the Fonterra food scare and NZ Food & Beverage month in Beijing.

It’s been a turbulent few weeks for Fonterra in the wake of a further dairy crisis. Our largest company has been under the public microscope, particularly by its largest customer – China.

“With regard to dairy, the NZ brand has taken a hit, but it will recover,” says Alex Worker, whose Marianas Group serves as representative for a number of premier New Zealand food and beverage brands in China.

Worker says with New Zealand dairy so closely connected to our national brand, maintaining its integrity is vital for all sectors and in particular, the food and beverage industry. “We want to be known as the trusted suppliers of quality food and beverage, and not as the ones who tried but too often got it wrong and missed the boat.”

“The media sensationalism in New Zealand did not aid any Fonterra or Government response,” ¬†said Worker who added that as a country – “we are too quick to blame.”

The cleanup job being undertaken by both Fonterra and the Government appeared to be going over well with the Chinese according to Worker, with the presence of senior officials providing a significant show of respect to the Chinese.¬†“Having the CEO and Foreign Minister in-market within a week or so of the event seemed to have been received positively,” Worker says. “The Fonterra board visit also illustrates that finally, we Kiwis understand that much of what is required to say sorry has to be done in person, with our most senior stakeholders at the front leading this.”

With the Fonterra scare following a still fresh muck-up over NZ meat exports stalled at Chinese wharves, it would appear that Worker and his Marianas Group couldn’t have picked a worse time to host their NZ Food & Beverage month in Beijing. Worker instead sees an opportunity. “This event will allow more high-end Chinese consumers to understand that the New Zealand product story is not just about dairy. There is a fantastic range of New Zealand brands and products with world-class, delicious, safe, and natural stories to taste, enjoy, share, and celebrate.”

The event features renowned Auckland chef, Kate Fay who has taken up a short residency at Temple Restaurant in Beijing. By celebrating and showcasing a range of high end food & beverage brands, Worker is hoping the events will serve as a platform to build market presence and awareness.

“It is hoped this event acts as as a benchmark where more New Zealand companies, particularly SME?s, will proactively want to pool resources and collaborate via in-market platforms to help tell their New Zealand story.”

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“From the outset this event series was to be private-sector led, and it?s been encouraging to see the New Zealand public sector come on board supporting us too,?” said Worker, referring to assistance from NZTE who have supported promoting the event amongst senior food and beverage suppliers in China.



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