Meat & Livestock News

Exploring New Trade Horizons

TL;DR: Outgoing Alliance Group chair Murray Taggart advises pursuing a trade deal with India without dairy due to challenges. Alliance diversifies into India’s market, showing resilience and innovation in facing global market fluctuations.

The government is facing calls to pursue a free trade deal with India, even if it means leaving dairy out for now.

Murray Taggart, the outgoing chair of Alliance Group, sees India as a key market for sheepmeat. However, he warns that aiming for a comprehensive deal including dairy might be overly ambitious due to India’s strong dairy industry.

India, being the largest dairy producer globally, has a powerful farming lobby, making dairy inclusion in trade deals complex.

Taggart suggests starting with a simpler agreement, building relationships with Indian counterparts, and aiming for more inclusive deals later.

Strategic Movements

Since 2013, Alliance has supplied QualityNZ, which has ties with New Zealand cricketers Sir Richard Hadlee, Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori, and Brendon McCullum, with premium lamb. This partnership has placed New Zealand’s lamb in over 340 luxury hotels across 25 Indian cities.

By 2020, Alliance acquired a stake in QualityNZ, diversifying into seafood and wine, reducing reliance on the Chinese market and tapping into India’s growth.

Reflecting on a Decade of Leadership

Taggart’s retirement comes after steering Alliance through fluctuating market conditions, leading to significant growth in the cooperative’s turnover.

Under his leadership, after a $51 million loss in 2012, Alliance rebounded with substantial profits, peaking in 2022. However, challenges remained, including a recent significant loss attributed to market downturns and high operational costs.

Taggart’s journey from banking to farming and eventually to leading Alliance highlights his belief in the meat industry’s potential for added value, despite inherent challenges.

Innovative Product Development

Alliance’s pursuit of value beyond traditional markets includes developing new products, such as health supplements derived from cattle, demonstrating a continuous search for innovation within the sector.

Safety improvements in operations have also been a focus, with significant reductions in injury rates, ensuring worker well-being.

Looking Forward

Taggart’s governance roles, including chairing a forestry company and serving on several boards, reflect his continued commitment to New Zealand’s primary sector.

His tenure at Alliance underscores the complexity of managing agricultural businesses amid changing regulations and market pressures. Taggart’s efforts have been towards strengthening Alliance’s position, navigating market cycles, and exploring new opportunities for growth.