Agreement reached to drive sector efficiencies between rural merchants and suppliers through high quality product data


16 February 2023

The agribusiness sector is a key contributor to our economy. The sector has recognised that there are significant opportunities to boost performance and efficiency by creating a ‘common language’ for the exchange of key product data between suppliers and merchants.

"Fonterra Farm Source, by its nature, works hard to find ways to create efficiencies for our suppliers and value to our joint customers.  Structured master data; input once and shared with many, is a very good example of this so we’re thrilled to be progressing with a national product catalogue for NZ’s agribusiness sector" comments Anne Douglas, Group Director Fonterra Farm Source.

Building on the successful industrywide agreement to standardise product identification using GS1 barcodes in 2015 (now on >90% of all products), the focus of the 2023 call-to-action is for what is often called ‘catalogue data’. Farmers and other rurally-inclined customers are expecting to have available on demand and online good quality information about products and associated technical information. Likewise, the agribusiness merchants need an expanded variety of information from suppliers on their products so that they can manage and sell the products effectively.

"Farmlands recognises that increasing demands in the sector have, in many cases, dependencies relating to the product details and that approaching the collection and maintenance of this data efficiently is beneficial to our shareholders and the industry in the long run" says Chris Fisher, Chief Merchandising Officer for Farmlands.

The agreement has been worked out over the last 15 months with the facilitation of data standards and services body GS1 NZ. Recent rural supplier seminars hosted by GS1 and attended by ~100 suppliers highlighted that each of the merchants requesting different product information in different formats and via different routes (email, file upload etc) was inefficient, risky and not seen as a source of competitive differentiation. A plan for the development of a National Product Catalogue for the agribusiness sector is now being established, leveraging development done by the hardware/DIY sector.

"At RuralCo we are obsessed with delivering the best service possible for our members. Our members will benefit and are pivotal to getting the right product when our customers need it." Jono Pavey, Group Manager Farm Supplies RuralCo.

"Implementing business improvement initiatives through 'industry good' collaboration will deliver value to our collective customers and supplier partners. Gaining efficiencies through initiatives such as this benefits the entire sector and that’s a good thing” says Aaron Gordon, National Manager Retail Supply Chain, PGG Wrightson.

Agreeing to work collaboratively with suppliers in this industrywide, pro-competitive initiative in the master data arena will increase supply chain visibility and efficiency and reduce costs for all participants. Identified by the merchants also as part of the action plan were opportunities for:

  1. Improved inventory and batch control through the progressive adoption of 2-dimensional barcodes (ie. QR codes allowing the scanning of best-before dates and other information) - facilitating waste minimisation, traceability, and enhanced sustainability.
  2. Standardising recalls management via online systems already ubiquitous in other sectors to aid the sector in increasing overall trust and confidence, (especially consumers and regulators).



Media contact’s details

Peter Stevens
+64 21 577 131; [email protected]


About Farmlands

Farmlands Co-operative was formed by farmers for farmers over 55 years ago, with the aim that everybody should prosper. This sentiment remains as strong as ever. Farmlands is the largest buying group of its type in New Zealand, transacting more than 2.5 billion dollars' worth of business annually and is listed in the top 20 companies by turnover in New Zealand. This buying power helps reduce the input costs of more than 70,000 Farmlands shareholders nationwide.

About Farm Source

Fonterra operates a network of over 65 Farm Source stores throughout New Zealand. These stores offer services and support to farmers and operate as retail farm supply stores for farmers and the wider public. Farm Source is a fully-owned subsidiary of Fonterra.

About RuralCo

Ruralco is a values-led farming co-operative operating since 1963. Headquartered in Ashburton, RuralCo has close to 3,000 shareholder farmers and a group turnover nearing $300m. 

About PGG Wrightson

PGG Wrightson is a New Zealand business listed on the NZ Stock Exchange (NZX:PGW). Our business today employs over 1,800 people located throughout New Zealand and has a rich heritage of more than 170 years of working alongside New Zealand farmers and growers to service their on-farm and on-orchard needs.

About GS1

GS1 is a global family of not-for-profit, member-owned organisations. GS1 New Zealand works together with organisations to share accurate information with their trading communities to streamline the way they work. We do this through industry collaboration and by providing a suite of GS1’s global standards and solutions, including unique identifiers, traceability tools and data sharing system. There are 8,000+ organisations that are members of GS1 NZ locally, and 2,000,000+ globally. On the GS1 NZ board are senior executives from Business NZ, Countdown, Foodstuffs, Fonterra, Fletcher Building, EBOS Group, Te Whatu Ora/Health NZ and others.