Cricket is second only to religion in India.
In fact, former New Zealand cricketer Geoff Allott believes cricket to Indians is about 10 times more important than rugby is to New Zealanders.
Allott and several other New Zealand cricket stars - Daniel Vettori, Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum - are using their status to promote the Alliance Group's Pure South-branded meat products in India.
Allott is the chief executive of Quality New Zealand, a New Zealand-based export entity that is 100 per cent focused on trade with India.
India has huge untapped potential - with a population of about 1.2 billion people it is fast becoming one of the largest economies in the world.
"India is a land full of opportunity but it is also a misunderstood country," Allott told about 200 suppliers at the Alliance Pure South conference in Queenstown this week.
He said the QualityNZ concept was born during a trip to India when he was an employee of New Zealand Cricket.
He admitted he had preconceived images of India being a poverty-stricken country, but found there was also a lot of wealth.
"There is poverty but there's also a side people don't see - all the architecture that's going ahead and four new international airports," he said.
Allott said he had spent about three years researching India and poured $1 million into developing a business model for success in the country, based on his cricket connections. "India's passion for cricket exceeds ours for rugby by about 10 times."
Allott said Vettori, who coached the Royal Challengers cricket team in Bangalore, was highly regarded in India.
"He is seen as a demigod. He adds huge credibility and value to our brand."
Vettori, Fleming and McCullum were all ambassadors and shareholders in QualityNZ, which had offices in Christchurch, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Cricket great Sir Richard Hadlee had just been named the company's patron.
Allott, who played for the New Zealand cricket team between 1997 and 2000, said QualityNZ had chosen to be associated with the Alliance Group because it was the "right company with the right ethics".
"I find the co-operative concept really appealing.
"All the suppliers are shareholders and they have a passion to produce the best quality product."
Allott said Alliance could also supply consistent and reliable product, which was required in the fast-growing Indian market.
Along with signing exclusive ambassador agreements with New Zealand cricketers, Quality NZ had also established a successful import company in India and held a successful launch at the New Zealand High Commission for 150 hotel contacts.
It has also processed a trial shipment of Pure South Lamb into Delhi and had received positive feedback.
The Alliance Pure South Conference finished yesterday.
He played for the New Zealand cricket team from 1997 to 2000
He was one of the best bowlers of the 90s
He retired from international cricket after suffering seven back fractures
He is a past board member of Canterbury Cricket Association
He was appointed to the board of New Zealand Cricket in September 2013
He lives in Christchurch and is married to Ginny
They have four boys – Henry, 10; Finn, 8; and twins Joel and Will, 7.
- The Southland Times