Primary groups in joint China push

CATHERINE HARRIS
Last updated 10:23 08/08/2014

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A group of primary industry businesses has set up a launching pad to help its members find their feet in China.

Based in Shanghai, ServeCo will provide office facilities, catering, administration and support staff to help members gain easier entry to the complex mainland China market.

ServeCo was established by the newly-formed Primary Collaboration New Zealand, whose members include Sealord, Silver Fern Farms, Synlait Milk, Kono and Villa Maria Estate.

ServeCo stemmed from a ''primary sector bootcamp'' held by industry chief executives and government agency leaders at Stanford University in 2012.

Andy Borland, the collaboration's chairman and managing director of Scales Corporation, said it was clear from the bootcamp that New Zealand firms needed to find a way of improving their market knowledge in China.

''China is probably New Zealand's most important market now and in the future. However, many primary sector exporters have limited insight into the market beyond the point of sale which is often their China-based importer or distributor.''

The collaboration also wanted to lower the cost and risk of entry to China, Borland said.

As a wholly foreign-owned enterprise, ServeCo would avoid the complexity and cost associated with setting up a stand-alone business in China.

The venture has been supported by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise which helped with formation costs.

NZTE chief executive Peter Chrisp said NZTE wanted to build coalitions of companies to go to market together.  ''In a small country like New Zealand, it makes sense to 'collaborate to compete'.''

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