Field-to-plate demo impresses visitors

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 06:08 20/11/2013
COLLETTE DEVLIN/The Southland Times

Alliance group marketing general manager Murray Brown with the chinese delegation touring the Alliance Lorneville plant.

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A delegation of Chinese visitors gave their first taste of Southland and New Zealand the thumbs-up yesterday.

Alliance Group hosted a group of 26 at its Lorneville meat plant and showed them how sheepmeat was processed and gave them a cooking demonstration.

The delegation was made up of winners of an Alliance consumer research programme, Chinese media, the owner of a large Chinese chain restaurant and representatives from Grand Farm - Alliance Group's largest Chinese customer. For most it was their first time in New Zealand. The occasion was recorded for a Chinese television and radio station based in Heilongjiang - a province in the northeast of China.

Television presenter Peng Yuan said the coverage would be included in a programme called city life that educated the province with a population of 4 million, about lifestyles and food.

Competition winner Zhou Zhi Hai said it was great to visit the world's largest sheepmeat processor and exporter.

New Zealand lamb tasted much different to that in China, he said.

Chen Xi Liang, who is in charge of the Grand Farm factory in China, said consumers associated New Zealand lamb with the best in the world and it was good for him to see the process from field to plate.

Traceability of meat was immensely important in China, which Alliance had demonstrated.

He was pleased to see high standard food safety procedures. He now wanted to discuss technology with Alliance and try to bring the same high standards to China.

Alliance Group general manager of marketing Murray Brown said the aim was to create awareness and educate the group as China progressed towards a western style of cooking.

The company wanted its products to be used in higher sectors within China, such as five-star hotels and restaurants that understood western cuisine. This aspect of the business was less about volume and more about adding value, he said.

Business in China had grown because it was dealing with this wide range of products. Alliance had been developing relationships in China for about 20 years but it was in the last three years the company had experienced a surge in growth. China makes up about 30 per cent of Alliance's total volume of exports.

The Chinese delegation also toured a farm in Castlerock owned by Alliance Group suppliers. collette.devlin@stl.co.nz

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