The world's leading food and agribusiness bank says that the partnership with Aquaculture New Zealand is a natural and logical fit for the bank who has been a long-time lender to the aquaculture sector. Speaking at the Aquaculture New Zealand launch at the Boathouse in Nelson, Ben Russell, Rabobank's General Manager for rural New Zealand, said that the establishment of a single unified organisation for the Aquaculture industry was a significant step forward and that the bank was looking forward to an active and long-term partnership with the organisation.
"Aquaculture New Zealand will enhance the confidence of all stakeholders at a time when the growth prospects for the sector have never been stronger, and we congratulate everyone involved," Mr Russell said, adding that its formation comes at an important time for the industry.
Globally, aquaculture is the world's fastest growing animal protein sector. Global production is expanding rapidly, particularly in developing countries where cost structures and environmental constraints are lower. Consumer demands are also changing rapidly, particularly in relation to environmental sustainability.
Mr Russell commented that these trends present both threats and opportunities for New Zealand aquaculture, however he was confident that that the opportunities far outweigh the threats.
"Consumer requirements for products that can demonstrate the key elements of corporate social responsibility, and associated supply chain integrity play well to the competitive advantages of New Zealand Aquaculture," Mr Russell said.
"Indeed, the New Zealand industry must continue to differentiate itself on the basis of quality, sustainability and product integrity - competing with the likes of China, Thailand and Vietnam on a lowest cost of production playing field is a contest we are likely to lose."
Mr Russell said that the New Zealand industry had already undergone significant changes in the business environment for aquaculture, citing the Aquaculture Law Reforms of 2004 and the New Zealand Aquaculture Strategy as two fundamental improvements.
"The formation of Aquaculture New Zealand is another critical step in aiding investment in the industry. Investors of any kind, both equity and debt, seek information on industry outlook, production, markets and risks. Good quality information on these matters will increase the confidence and speed of investment. These are all strategies that Rabobank supports to the highest order," he said.
In New Zealand, Rabobank has aquaculture specialists in five of its branches. The bank has a strong portfolio of aquaculture customers but it is hoping to grow further business relationships in the industry," Mr Russell said.
Rabobank is strongly committed to corporate social responsibility. It was ranked fourth in Standard & Poors 'Tomorrow's Value' sustainability survey, which is conducted in partnership with SustainAbility and the United Nations Environmental Program.