Cricketers enlisted to sell lamb

DIANE BISHOP
Last updated 14:51 08/07/2014
John Rabbitt and Geoff Allott
DIANE BISHOP/Fairfax NZ

ACROSS THE SEAS: Alliance Group marketing manager sheepmeats John Rabbitt, left, and Quality New Zealand chief executive Geoff Allott are celebrating the first major shipment of Pure South-branded lamb to India.

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Wealthy Indians will soon be dining on top-quality New Zealand lamb.

The Alliance Group and its marketing partner Quality New Zealand have sent the first major shipment of frozen lamb to India.

Alliance Group marketing manager sheepmeats John Rabbitt said the container of lamb comprised the high- end cuts - French racks, legs and shanks - and was destined for India's top hotels.

"This is a significant shipment.

"I am quietly confident this is the start of bigger and better things," Rabbitt said.

QualityNZ chief executive Geoff Allott was in Invercargill last week for product development and strategy meetings with Alliance staff.

Allott had spent about three years researching India and had poured $1 million into developing a business model for success in India, based on his cricket connections.

The former New Zealand cricketer had joined forces with New Zealand cricket stars Daniel Vettori, Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum to promote the Alliance Group's Pure South-branded meat products in India.

Allott said cricketers such as Vettori and McCullum were seen as demigods in India, a country that was obsessed with cricket. Both players had been involved in the Indian Premier League competition for many years, with Vettori recently becoming coach of the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

"Cricket is second only to religion in India. India's passion for cricket exceeds New Zealand's for rugby by about 10 times," Allott said.

He said QualityNZ had developed relationships with a "number of hotels" in India and had received fantastic feedback about New Zealand lamb.

"There is huge appetite for New Zealand lamb. It is seen as a world- class product."

QualityNZ has offices in Christchurch and Mumbai with its head office in Bangalore, where, ironically, QualityNZ patron Richard Hadlee first broke the world record for the most test wickets back in 1988.

Allott said his company, which was 100 per cent focused on trade with India, had chosen to be associated with the Alliance Group because it was the "right company with the right ethics".

"All the suppliers are shareholders and they have a passion to produce the best quality product."

Alliance could also supply consistent and reliable product, which was required in the fast-growing Indian market, Allott said.

Rabbitt said they were targeting the growing middle class in India.

"We see India as being the new China. "Fifteen years ago we sent our first container of product to China and it is now our largest frozen market." But, while China started as a low-value market, India had started as a high-value market and Rabbitt said there was huge untapped potential in a country with 1.5 billion people.

"In years to come it will be a significant market of substance."

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- The Southland Times

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