Brazil beckons NZIBA innovation winner

Milmeq chief executive Mike Lightfoot.
Milmeq chief executive Mike Lightfoot.

New Zealand refrigeration technology company Milmeq will soon supply its industry-leading technologies to the world's largest beef market.

Milmeq has continued to make innovation part of its DNA since winning the Excellence in Innovation category in last year's New Zealand International Business Awards (NZIBA).

The company recently opened a sales and manufacturing headquarters in Brazil, to target the burgeoning South American meat processing market.

Its chief executive Mike Lightfoot says there are some very large companies based out of Brazil that process millions of dollars' worth of meat product a year who would benefit from Milmeq's technology.

"We want to target some of that business. To date we have had a very good response but it is one of the hardest markets in the world to try and set up in," he says.

Lightfoot says South America is a difficult market to break into, and it took a year to find the right location for its office there. He says New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) provided crucial help on-the-ground in Brazil, with market research and introductions to key contacts.

"Business as an exporter in a little country like New Zealand is tough. It's a very hard road. It's really about thinking outside the square and using the likes of NZTE to try and prop up growth. NZTE is an amazing resource," says Lightfoot.

NZTE's regional director for South America, Nick Swallow, says the business operating environment in Brazil is complex and cumbersome, but Milmeq has been very astute in understanding that market complexity.

"The company has carefully considered its options and chased commercial opportunities. They have great prospects here in Brazil with such a large meat processing market, and they have put themselves in the box seat," says Swallow.

The company manufactures in New Zealand, Mexico and Brazil, and sells its refrigeration technologies in the United States, Mexico, the UK, Europe and Australia (which is still its largest market).

Lightfoot says the company's success is based on its ability to adapt for each market and make the most of opportunities.

"We are just a very smart innovative company and strive to achieve all the time," he says.

Exporters entering the NZIBA choose one of three main categories depending on their size, and can also enter multiple special categories of which there are six.

The special category Excellence in Innovation recognises success in developing and commercialising innovation in international markets.

Entries for the NZIBA are open, and close July 8. To find out more about the awards visit this website.

- NZ Herald

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