Landcorp boss Steven Carden is taking a two-pronged approach to developing and building on New Zealand's largest corporate farmer.

The state-owned enterprise which owns or manages 140 dairy, beef, sheep and deer farms has been undergoing a refresh in the last two years since Carden and chairwoman Traci Houpapa came on board.

Carden says its focus had been on two areas; overhauling its approach to farming and trying to be more market led by looking beyond the farm gate to what consumers want.

Landcorp has more than 600 permanent employees most of whom work on farms with around 70 staff based in its Wellington head office.


Part of its investment into people had been a safety drive. In early 2014 it launched a Play it Safe campaign to talk to staff about the need for safer farm practices.

Fronted by former All Black and farmer Richard Loe it has prompted an increase in reported incidences while reducing the number of lost works days due to injury.

Its other 'on farm' approach had been a drive towards sustainable farming practices.

The plans lay out how management need to achieve sustainability for both environmental and productive purposes and cover stocking rates, nutrient applications, scrub regeneration and forestry planning.

It is designed to plug directly into boosting production rates to a point where it supplies 5 per cent of the country's total meat and fibre exports as well as having a focus on targeting niche markets. As part of this the company launched a new brand earlier this year called Pamu -- meaning "to farm" in Maori.

Carden says increasing the volume of what New Zealand produced was not enough and the branding was part of Landcorp's strategy to work with its partners to connect with customers in niche high end markets.

While Landcorp's direct customers were all local -- it supplied milk to Fonterra and Synlait and dealt with meat processors Silver Fern Farms -- ultimately its lamb was sold into the UK, its beef went to the US and milk was distributed around the world.

Carden said wool and meat were areas it felt it could offer something different. "We will look at those areas where we can develop an advantage."


One area is sheep milk.

Carden said sheep milk had a higher level of consumption globally than cow's milk but most of it was done within domestic markets such as the Middle East. "It's not really exported so there are opportunities to create an export market."

Landcorp has formed a joint venture with SLC to set up a marketing company called Spring Sheep Dairy and hopes to sell milk powder, probiotic yoghurt and ice cream into Taiwan and Korea next year.