Overwhelming support in Hawke’s Bay to keep food production GE Free

84% of Hawke’s Bay residents want Hawke’s Bay to remain a GM Free food producing region, according to a Colmar Brunton poll conducted earlier this year.

Residents surveyed overwhelmingly saw GM free food production as giving the region a strong market advantage:

  • 90% believe that retaining that status would be good for the region’s reputation as a food producer and
  • 84% believe that it would give Hawke’s Bay food exports a competitive advantage.

The poll was commissioned by Pure Hawke’s Bay, a group of farmers and growers who want to capture the significant marketing and branding benefits from the region remaining a GM Free food producing area.

They want to secure a ten-year GM free window through district and regional plans that will allow food producers to market Hawke’s Bay products as grown in a GM Free region.

This is about putting Hawke’s Bay on the map as one of the world’s premium food producing regions, says John Bostock.

Attitudes to GM foods may change down the track, but right now the message is loud and clear: If you want to position as a premium producer, you don’t go anyway near GM, says Bostock.

Premium buyers like Tescoes, Waitroses and a host more are quite clear that they don’t want a bar of GM food or feed.

Hawke’s Bay residents have sent a strong message to Hawke’s Bay councils, says stud farmer Will MacFarlane. They want councils to make sure we don’t lose this opportunity.

Capturing that market opportunity requires certainty, says MacFarlane. Hawke’s Bay food producers and exporters need to know that there are not going to be any GM releases. This is where our councils come in because only they can secure legal, GM Free food producer status. Central government can’t and wont.

It’s a win-win for the region, says Bostock. We can secure our valuable GM free status at little cost, with major economic and reputational upside for the region.

A number of premium food producing regions in the world have official GM Free status. Twenty-one regions in France and 16 in Italy alone are GM Free. Among them, Burgundy, Champagne, Provence and Tuscany are regions whose names are synonymous with good food and rich traditions in food production the world-over. South Australia and Tasmania have also gone GM Free for marketing purposes.

It is important that Hawke’s Bay does not get left behind in the competition for premium markets.

In New Zealand, Northland councils have paved the way for Hawke’s Bay councils, as they have mapped out how local authorities can secure official GM free status. The heavy lifting has been done and the regions can leverage off that.

You can find a copy of the full poll results here.

PDF version

Pure Hawke’s Bay growers and farmers want official GM Free food producer status for the region for the next ten years. This is a market-led position and an opportunity to strengthen the Hawke’s Bay’s reputation as a world-class food producing region. For more information on Pure Hawke’s Bay see: http://purehawkesbay.org

About the poll

The telephone survey of five hundred adults (18+) in the Hawke’s Bay region was conducted between 25 January 2012 and 11 February 2012. The survey sample was generated using Random Digit Dialling.

A sample size of 500 is subject to maximum margins of error of +/- 4.4%

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