Monday June 10, 2019
The New Zealand China Trade Association announced the winners of their HSBC NZCTA China Business Awards at a ceremony in Auckland on Thursday. These are arguably New Zealand’s most important acknowledgement of the deepening trade and investment relationship between China and New Zealand.
The Supreme Award winner (overall winner from six categories) was the Fiordland Lobster Company (pictured above, CEO Alan Buckner, far left). The company was also the winner of the NZCTA’s trade award category (the NZ Trade & Enterprise award for excellence in trade).
Fiordland Lobster Company is New Zealand’s largest exporter of live lobsters, or crayfish as we know them here. In China, NZ lobster is one of the most premium and sought-after dishes for wedding banquets and important business dinners.
From its origins in Te Anau 30 years ago, Fiordland Lobster Company today operates from 15 sites around New Zealand, Australia and China. This year it will send around one and a half million live lobsters to China, all requiring the most careful handling.
“This is a remarkable supply chain. It enables this absolutely delicious product to be rapidly delivered to China, cleared through customs, and sold as the premier, ‘must have’ item on diners’ tables,” says NZCTA Chairman and DLA Piper partner Martin Thomson.
For the last two years, Fiordland Lobster has also been supplying the Chinese online-to-offline supermarket chain Hema, part of the massive Alibaba Group. Lobsters are individually tagged with the company’s Wild Legend brand, including QR codes that allow Chinese consumers to learn about the NZ origins of the lobster in front of them. Lobsters are also sold online and delivered individually to consumers, delivering the NZ story right into Chinese homes.
These innovations are part of what caught the NZCTA judges’ attention. Fiordland Lobster Company CEO Alan Buckner says of receiving the Supreme Award:
“We’re absolutely delighted with this recognition of the journey we’ve been on. China is a challenging market and the pace of change there is incredible. It’s actually shaped who we are by focusing our organizational culture onto constant innovation. Managing this while at the same time holding onto our founding values, you could say has been our own formula for success.”