Transforming Food Producers for the Future

7 days! It’s great TV. Definitely a little bit rude. And 7 days is definitely worthy of a PG16 rating.

My favourite part of 7 days is called ‘this is my picture’. In this segment, a kid from a local school draws a picture depicting a recent news event. The school kid is then filmed as he or she says something like “My name is Jimmy/Jane Brown. I’m from Room 4 at Palmerston North End School. This is my picture”. Cue big toothy grin. The 7 days comedians then try their best to interpret the kid’s drawing.It’s a delightfully simple concept and the 7 days comedians have endless fun with it.

In a similar way food producers can take this concept and make endless use of it. A reasonable question at this point might be how?

First up, food producers need to start simple, just like the school kid does. “Who are you?” “Where are you from?” And then the key part: “what is your picture?” Note that some people may be more comfortable with substituting ‘picture’ with ‘story’ and that’s what we’ll do from here.

One of the great things about the 7 days version of ‘this is my picture’ is the way the school kids deliver their lines. Their delivery is cute. It’s funny, it’s quirky and it’s never boring! But more importantly, it’s genuine. We can all learn a lot from kids.

In the same way, food producers need to tell their food story as passionately. Indeed, the story needs to resonate the same way school kids’ pictures do. In other words, stories need to be genuine.
Next, you need to tell your story to anyone that’s listening. This is where NZ food producers need to lose some of that old-fashioned shyness. Indeed, modesty will no longer be a virtue in the future of food.

There are lots of media available to tell food stories. Social media platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn make it very easy, while also keeping it low cost.
Moreover, the great thing about social media is that everyone can see you and your story: from the police; to the grocery shopper in Beijing; to the Michelin star chef; all the way to your teenage daughter. Everyone can see! And that’s the way it should be.

In that sense your story needs to be honest. Say to the world: “I am a food producer, here I am in New Zealand, this is the food I produce and this is how I do it”. Keep it simple and honest and, like the kids on 7 days, people will love you for it.

But don’t stop there. Food producers need to retell their story. Refine it. And then retell it again.

The future starts with your food story. If you are not already telling your story to whoever will listen then, as the saying goes, there’s no time like the present!

Article by Nathan Penny
ASB Senior Rural Economist

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