South Island – The Real Opportunity by Belfiore Bologna

The world of business in many ways can tend to distract us from opportunities that are right in front of us yet, seldom considered due to our “way” of approaching a business strategy.

I remember explaining my concerns to an old mentor in my town in Italy, a well-known producer of Croccantino nougat chocolate, a very niche-market product that has made it to many shores. The South Island is a very small market with only one million people. He replied: “Don’t worry about that, what is important is that you have continuity in that million asking for your product constantly”.

We can’t deny the true limitations of a small market not to mention the “distraction” that comes from us trying to bypass this problem and coming up with creative ways to make consumers buy more. Our Italian products are much sought after, all over the world; yes, our know-how is a state of the art when we produce prosciutto or wine and cars, and I take this opportunity to also proudly say: let’s not forget the sailing boats & equipment industries.

Are we simply not seeing the true opportunity that is right in front of us? Are we just doing things always the same way? Are we only trying to sale more bottles of Barolo or Montepulciano to a population of 4.5 million of which, only one million live in the South island? During my latest visit at the AGM last year, I spoke about this in my presentation and have been reflecting upon it in the following months.

Yes, the South Island has only one million people, and yes, in a post-Covid world, we’ll have tourists again, but these other industries are still relevant to the infrastructure of a one million inhabitants scenario. Let’s not forget, this same territory is populated by perhaps about fifteen million sheep and a smaller number of cattle whose beef or milk ends being some of the highest exports from New Zealand to the world. Think about how many fruit trees (apples, kiwifruit, etc.) exist or even Pinus Radiata which ends up being exported.

If we think creatively, and don’t just focus on the human being as a market, let’s ask ourselves: is there a product, system or service from the Italian know-how that can solve the life of New Zealand business owners within the farming industry? Is there anything that Italy does that can be sold to the benefit of each of those sheep or for the millions of kiwifruit plants? Why are we focusing only on human-consumed products, when Italy has also a huge tradition in machinery and systems for farming and other ancillary industries?

Italy is one of the most innovative countries producing machinery for fruit collection and /or agricultural processing. How can we become a bridge for those industries and their potential clients in New Zealand? Can we adopt a similar approach for animal pharmaceutical products and/or systems, which can increase the local productivity?

In my next article, I will explore these possibilities and report back on my latest conversations with our NZ counterparts in Italy to find what their key strategic sectors are (for New Zealand towards Italy & Europe). I am confident that a better knowledge of their commercial strategy will certainly assist us to map our “Italian offer” with products and services, which can become a win-win for the B2B collaboration that certainly would bring high volumes for both sides. I will also dive into the new key-economic growth areas of Canterbury and how these can be tackled with the same vision. In order to maximise the possible opportunities that are there, but we simply have not yet seen them (until now).