In the early days of New Zealand Cymbidium exporting, NZEGO responded to the industry's lack of marketing opportunities by setting up the grower-owned Flora Pacific. Although at its zenith, Flora Pacific was believed to export 80% of the New Zealand Cymbidium crop, shareholder dissatisfaction and politics eventually led to its demise in early 1992. Despite a less than glorious final chapter, it is no exaggeration that Flora Pacific played a central role in shaping the young industry and helped put New Zealand on the map as an Orchid producing country.
Never again was one exporter to enjoy such a dominant position in the market. New Zealand Orchid growers have since supported an open access approach to exporting which has resulted in the trading environment we see today, where around 8 independent exporters vie for product. The free-marketing environment that has developed to date has been supported by NZEGO, however with tough economic pressures impacting the industry over the last few years, discussions regarding other options and even a 'single desk' marketing of Cymbidium has been brought to the fore-front. It has been the view of successive committees that competition among exporters, while not perfect, is the best way forward for the industry. NZEGO and NZFEA are working together to encourage efficiency, specialisation and most importantly, an entrepreneurial spirit among exporters to expand markets and work towards a common interest that benefits outcomes for growers.
This is one of the more controversial topics in horticulture, as opinion is so often divided on the merits of a 'produce tax'.
Polling of our members has consistently returned a roughly two thirds majority against levies - a stance that NZEGO duly relayed to both Government and other industry bodies.
The initial motivation for establishing the Price Monitor was the fact that a significant number of growers were getting their price information from a limited source. To date the Price Monitor offers a statical data base for our industry. Debate on the accuracy of the information needs further clarification so the data matches up with the NZ statistical data, however it is a useful tool and reflects our supply and demand trends, and gives growers an indication of whether their product is meeting the bar.
Inland Revenue periodically reviews the basis for plant stock valuation for income tax purposes. It is only through repeated submissions by NZEGO over the last 15 years, that the standard book value of mature plants has been held at $3 each.
The ongoing challenge we face is the Inland Revenue's desire to view plants as 'trading stock', even though only a tiny fraction of the industry's total stock is traded every year.
It is a sign of our standing that although modest as industry groups go, Government agencies do seek the input of NZEGO when issues arise. We are the largest flower organisation and as exporters of 'primary produce' it is natural that we should be in contact with the likes of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and Trade & Enterprise. This year communications with NZTE have been fruitful in developing marketing strategy with other countries and communications with the Ministry of Agriculture are developing pathways to improve our position as an industry with an outstanding quality product.
As the regulatory authority with direct responsibility for our industry, MAF has always been the agency with the greatest potential influence over our industry, and there have been times when their policy decisions have caused us serious concern. Two instances stand out: Most primary producers were required to establish contingency plans in case of introduction of new pests and diseases. These plans would be based on a costly 'industry risk analysis' that would be updated annually by MAF for additional dollars. We advised MAF that it was unreasonable for a small industry to have to match the level of expenditure of, say, pip-fruit or kiwifruit, especially as we had no clear means of funding such a scheme.
Secondly, a major crisis arose for our Industry, when MAF were advised that Light Brown Apple Moth was found in a floriculture shipment to the United States. All floriculture exports were halted with immediate affect. NZFEA and NZEGO worked closely with MAF to agree on a pathway to speed up the process to open export markets as soon as possible. This resulted in MAF creating a compulsory 'accreditation' of all export growers to USA. The quality assurance system still remains to date, with NZEGO continuing to state their position that indoor cymbidium crops offer a minimal risk of LBAM infestion.
While NZEGO do not negotiate directly with airlines or freight agencies, we rely on our Exporters to arrange the best freight rates for our orchids to arrive in top quality condition at their destination. Organising frequent shipments that meet buyers needs overseas is a proven fact that encourages more sales and is imperative to a successful season.
NZEGO (in conjunction with VegFed) were developing a strategy aimed at securing some form of exemption for those members who would have been severely disadvantaged by imposition of the new tax, and our resistance had come to the attention of the Government's Climate Change Office. Orchid growers are more aware of growing a clean, green product, and NZEGO actively encourages eco-friendly management practices.
NZEGO hopes to provide an independent forum with information of value to those involved with the NZ orchid industry.
Members have the opportunity to receive a hard copy of the Orchid Manual published by NZEGO.
Members receive full access to (a) Our online discussion forum (b) Exclusive access to Price Monitor and archive reports(c) Representation with initiatives on a Government level; and (d) Marketing of our cymbidium product.
We can cite the fact that not only do we have a completely free trading environment, with open price information. Indeed new members benefit hugely from the competitive infrastructure of suppliers and export services sustained by the industry, as well as a comprehensive system of grading standards.