China TV stardom for NZ lamb

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 19/11/2013
Alliance Group
JOHN HAWKINS/ Fairfax NZ
PURE SUCCESS: Alliance Group general manager marketing Murray Brown with Pure South-branded lamb racks.

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Southland lamb is set to be showcased for a second time to millions of television viewers in China.

Venture Southland enterprise and strategic projects group manager Steve Canny said a mainstream TV appearance was a "big deal".

It was a positive opportunity to present potential from the region and could increase an audience in China for Southland products.

Alliance Group will host the Chinese winners of an Alliance consumer research programme at its Lorneville plant today, which will be recorded for a Chinese TV and Radio station based in Heilongjiang - a province in the northeast of China.

The winners will tour the Lorneville plant to see how sheepmeat is processed and watch a cooking demonstration.

The delegation will also tour The Rock, a farm in Castlerock owned by Alliance Group suppliers Brian and Kristine Russell.

Alliance, a meat exporter and processor, funded the research for the competition with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Grand Farm which is the Alliance Group's largest Chinese customer.

Chinese consumers were surveyed about the taste and quality of New Zealand lamb compared to that of Chinese and Inner Mongolian lamb.

The findings of the survey will be released next year.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand's 2012 - 13 export statistics, released last week, show China had become New Zealand's largest single lamb market and largest single mutton market - and, therefore, the largest single sheepmeat market - importing 131,000 tonnes, compared with 74,000 tonnes into Great Britain. China accounted for 28 per cent of New Zealand's lamb exports, 52 per cent of mutton exports and 33 per of sheepmeat [lamb and mutton].

Alliance Group general manager of marketing Murray Brown said today's visit was significant for the company as it looked to strengthen its presence in China.

The Alliance Group recognised the market had potential to grow further and was looking forward to showing the visitors the best Southland had to offer.

"We are particularly pleased our products, including our Pure South lamb, which will be on show to [television] viewers in China. This is another example of Alliance Group investing in our markets as we look to increase returns for our suppliers." he said.

This would be the second time Pure South products had featured on TV in China, he said.

Earlier this year, a chefs cookoff episode was aired to about 12 million viewers. The episode featured top restaurant chefs preparing Pure South lamb and venison dishes for judging.

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Grand Farm representatives would also visit other Alliance Group plants and farms later this month. Grand Farm and Alliance were working on a five-point blueprint designed to further grow the business, Mr Brown said.

Export Southland chairman Mark O'Connor said another TV appearance on Chinese TV was very significant.

It emphasised increases the company had made into the China market, he said.

He had seen a growing number of Alliance exports sent from South Port to China, he said.

"Their China strategy has undoubtedly had a successful impact," he said.

- The Southland Times

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