Trust Codes: Connecting with consumers, one code at a time
Reimagining New Zealand’s food and fibre sector
Being involved with Te Hono since Bootcamp III in 2014, Maury Leyland Penno has re-imagined how New Zealand can expand shared value within the food systems in which we operate.
“My husband, John, and I had the goal of stepping out of what we had been doing and taking on some new challenges to bring some more diversity to what we produce here in New Zealand and higher value, particularly land uses. And Te Hono really brought to life the importance of that global connection.”
With long-standing experience in the primary sector and strategy, Maury has a personal passion for farming and circularity.
“We've always talked about how the world surely needs what New Zealand's got but we've also got a bit too much mono-cultural land use. We need to be bringing some breadth to our land uses and making sure they are appropriate in each setting, particularly from an environmental perspective. We need to be tying together all our strengths in a way that we can be the best country for the world. Now that will take all of us pulling together, doing many things – and there are lots of people and many businesses doing some fantastic things, and we want to play our part in that.”
As a member of the Te Hono steering committee, director of Okuora Farms, and director of Leaft Foods, Maury has been playing her part in helping to reimagine New Zealand’s food and fibre sector – however, it’s data-driven storytelling that has captured her recent interest.
Data-driven storytelling in the food and fibre sector
For Maury and John, one way of playing their part has been through investing in Trust Codes, a data-driven traceability engine that protects brands while connecting them to their consumers through the use of QR codes or NFC tags on products.
Now chair of Trust Codes, Maury says the Covid-19 pandemic has further driven the demand for transparency and authenticity, especially with food, beverages and nutraceuticals. Interest in health and wellness products has also driven demand for solutions that can validate health claims while explaining the benefits to a consumer, in a digestible manner, while being backed by data – and that is where Trust Codes steps in.
“The Trust Codes solution allows a customer to scan the code on the product that they're buying and when they scan that code, they receive information that is specific to that particular unit – going beyond batch level information. The consumer gets verification the product is authentic and real, and along with this, the brand connects directly to the consumer giving them an opportunity to tell their unique brand story and values, and they get the traceability and lifecycle of a product.
“Behind that is a whole lot of supply chain data, such as animal and farm information with regards to where that particular product came from, the conditions or the weather around the time it was harvested, or what was happening in the factory to that can or that container or that unit – all that information that is foundational to that unique product is accessible to the consumer to sell a stronger brand story.
“It's a very unique method of truly telling that story in an authentic manner in a way that you can wrap up the best of our marketing type consumer stories that have that really solid high integrity data behind it. I think the bit that in New Zealand we sometimes miss, is the importance of having fantastic high integrity data that backs up the stories we want to tell. It's not good enough just to have an Instagram page.”
As a major player in food export, traceability should be an increasing focus in New Zealand, Maury says.
“On the food front, New Zealand exports to many countries in the world and we are proportionally a massive exporter. So it matters for us an incredible amount because we are sending our products around the world and we've had some experience of it going wrong, so we completely understand the need to do it well.”
Maury worked at Fonterra from 2004 to 2016 in various roles, including leading their crisis recovery team during the 2013 botulism scare.
“My experience at Fonterra gave me a very first-hand example of why traceability, authenticity, quality data and really being able to back what you’re saying, is so important. Because a) I saw it all go wrong and b) I was part of the team putting it right again.”
While food safety has been a big issue in some markets, like China, other markets have also been shifting towards the need for traceability.
“They've had enough bad experiences; there's enough negative media. They know that organic milk can come from barn raised animals and conditions they wouldn't like. They know that there's pollution, that there's soil degradation, that there's carbon losses. And for many consumers that really matters; they want to know that they're buying things which are helping make the world better – it’s a way of playing your role.
“How can we tell those stories of what they're getting from New Zealand in a way which is entirely authentic? In one way you can partly get that by going to your local farmers market and talking to the farmer who grew your product, but in New Zealand we grow much more food and fibre than we can sell at our local farmers market, so we must talk to the world in different ways, and in ways which don't involve that ‘I can meet you and trust you’, but we must bring trust in other ways, and so what Trust Codes does is it sits behind the brand.”
Te Hono Stanford Bootcamp leads to ‘more purposeful future’
The strength of the Te Hono network has further provided a chance to articulate a sharp focus on Iti-Nui; creating action to solve today’s problem, with a focus on a better future.
The strength of relationships formed across the primary sector with common goals and aspiration to dramatically increase the value of New Zealand’s primary sector has created an ecosystem of knowledge, tools and insight into what is possible.
Maury says: “I went to Bootcamp very absorbed in Fonterra and what we were trying to achieve and my role in helping to achieve that, and I came away having more of a purpose around Aotearoa New Zealand and the opportunity available from collaboration, building trust, building capability together, and stepping forward together. To me that was one of the really vital things that I took from it.”
Bootcamp was “a catalyst for me for a more purposeful future”, Maury says.
Her advice to anyone attending Bootcamp in the future is to go in thinking about their role within the big picture, not just the job or organisation they are currently in.
“I think the best mindset would be to go in and already have the goal of achieving something big, an aspiration that you know is almost impossible to achieve and then use Bootcamp to start to put together how you might go about that – and the answer will be collaboratively because if what you want to achieve is so small that you could do it on your own, then it's not worth doing. So take an aspiration which is way bigger than you.”