Collaboration is the Key to our Regional and National Agrifood Story

Meet Lee-Ann Marsh, an experienced global marketer specialising in innovation and consumer insights.

In order words, she keeps on top of key trends and disruptive signals and thinks about how New Zealand’s story fits into that and how we can leverage it to future proof our wider food and fibre sector.

“When I moved to NZ nearly 10 years ago I fell into a role at Fonterra that introduced me to the Primary Industries and I loved it. I loved the passion people have and the sense of community. A few years ago I stepped away for a stint with Nestle and while I learned a lot during that time, I found I missed the ag connection so I jumped at the chance to join Beef + Lamb New Zealand as part of their Market Development team.

With her feet back firmly in the agriculture industry, Lee-Ann found three challenges to telling the story well:

  • The average person isn’t connected to the farm.
  • The consumer is inundated with clutter, largely thanks to social media.
  • Sensational stories numb us to the good solid stories happening around us. Extremes get air time.

“None of this is surprising information, we have a powerful, deeply rooted ‘good story’ that isn’t being heard or understood above the noise. How do we share our solid story that connects people with our values in a way that feels fresh and exciting? We need to first understand and value our own story and then collaborate with others to share it in a way that truly connects.”

Lee-Ann believes this on a national and regional level. “We have an opportunity to connect the dots if we listen well to what others are doing and then sharing what we have to offer. That’s the key with collaboration – listening, responding and sharing for maximum impact.

“Here in NZ we have an incredible opportunity to tell our story. For example, what if someone travelling around NZ, whether they be from here or from overseas, found their way to Manawatū? What if we could link up a farm experience with producers with a delicious foodie experience and provide them with a ‘Buy Now’ button so that the delicious products they learned about and tasted could be shipped to their house? That would be the dream.”

Lee-Ann will share her thoughts and her research at ASB Perspective 2025 – where six female leaders, nationally and globally renowned for their work and contribution to the Primary Industries and food value chain, will gather to answer this question and more.

She will also be speaking at the AgResearch: Our Food. Our Future. discussing New Zealand’s agrifood role in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

With her experience in consumer insights and working with Beef and Lamb NZ, she is most keen to share her views around consumption, zero hunger and climate action.

“The good news is that these goals (SDGs) don’t have to be at odds with the goals of agriculture and rural communities. I think there’s a big opportunity for NZ to lead the way and the more we can collaborate in our own backyard the stronger we will all be. We can also work hand in hand with what we are already doing if we are willing to collaborate. We can actually lead the way and we should!”

Lee-Ann is excited to attend AgriFood Week 2020, not just as a speaker but an attendee. “I am looking forward to connecting with other thinkers and hearing new ideas. This is where NZ can thrive.”

About Leanne:

Lee-Ann is an experienced global marketer specialising in innovation and consumer insights. She began her career in Toronto before moving to London in 2006 where she worked with blue chip clients across FMCG, healthcare, and technology. She made the move to New Zealand at the end of 2010 and has worked for Fonterra and Nestlé prior to joining Beef & Lamb NZ in 2017.

Lee-Ann is passionate about New Zealand’s Primary Industries and the transformational opportunities available. As the Global Market Innovation Manager for Beef + Lamb NZ, Lee-Ann’s role is to create value for the red meat sector by understanding and turning disruptive shifts into competitive advantage.

In 2018, Lee-Ann led a review of alternative proteins for the sector which explored new food technologies, business models and the trends that are driving them. This work, alongside a major project to identify new pathways to market, is helping to position the industry to respond to forces of disruption to enable a sustainable future.

Lee-Ann graduated from the Agri Women’s Development Trust Escalator programme in 2019 and is committed to positioning NZ’s food and fibre sector as world-leading.

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