Jason Young says New Zealand tourist providers should pay attention to advancements in Chinese agritourism

Jason Young says New Zealand tourist providers should pay attention to advancements in Chinese agritourism

By Jason Young*

I’ve been incredibly lucky, over the last decade, to have the opportunity to travel regularly to China. In recent years, my research has turned to rural China allowing me to break out of the mega-cities and see some of the countryside.

During visits to farms and villages and by speaking with local academics, government officials and farmers, I’ve noticed the rise of Chinese agritourism. China has urbanised very fast. In the early 1980s roughly 200 million people lived in urban areas. Today the figure is closer to 700 million with projections of 1 billion urban dwellers by 2030.

Urban areas are often heavily populated, polluted and can lack green spaces. It is no surprise then to see people seeking ways of reconnecting with the natural environment and beginning to romanticise the image of a simpler rural life.

In the weekends and on holidays, large numbers of city dwellers escape to the countryside. They are attracted by three components of the Chinese agritourism experience.

农家饭 (nongjiafan) or Country Style Cuisine is similar to home style cooking and is found in a swathe of restaurants popping up in rural China. Its popularity is partly due to the enjoyment of eating authentic rural cuisine in a restaurant set out like a traditional rural household. Added attraction comes from a new food experience in a country where good cooking is a national, and increasingly international, fascination.

特产 (techan) or Local Specialty in agriculture and food describes the locally produced products and dishes so central to the Chinese tourist experience. Tourists often purchase gifts for friends and family when visiting new places. That gift is usually a local specialty and commonly includes locally produced food.

Tourists are attracted to authentic local specialties like xiaolongbao in Shanghai, Peking duck in Beijing or guantang baozi in Xian.

绿色食品 (lüseshipin) or Green Food describes a range of food that is pollution-free, sometimes organic and grown free from overuse of pesticides and fertilizers. Concerns over food safety and the authenticity of ingredients are driving a desire to secure fresh healthy foods.

Chinese agritourism gives people the opportunity to have a controlled experience of seeing and even harvesting fresh food and to eat at restaurants situated in and supplied by the areas where green food is grown.  

On my last trip to China I experienced this in Hebei where we paid more to pick strawberries than the price of washed, packed and marketed product at the local supermarket.

On a different trip to Hebei I visited a couple of large rural cooperatives that had secured investment and were developing tourist facilities to compliment their agricultural activities. 

These were large operations with their own hotels, restaurants, pools, spas, museums, specialty shops, as well as agricultural fields and paddocks open to visitors.

People appreciated the beauty of the ‘natural’ environment and the great taste of locally produced food while also remaining close to the comforts of urban life. Yes, there was free Wi-Fi.

As the industry develops, Chinese visitors to New Zealand are likely to have preconceived views of what an agritourism experience involves. We should therefore pay attention to advancements in Chinese agritourism.

For tourist providers, it helps to know that Chinese tourists may want to buy local specialties and to eat authentic locally produced food. Food manufacturers looking to capture a share of the tourist market could consider developing and marketing products that play to a regional specialization. Local governments considering tourism promotion and infrastructure development can identify and develop their regional differentiation and promote these local specialties. 

Developing the New Zealand Story at the national and regional level to accentuate local food specialties, to promote our local cuisine and to demonstrate our green food credentials can resonate with potential visitors and help disperse the tourist dollar to the regions.

New Zealand has the best ingredients of what agricultural tourism offers in China. Understanding what is valued in Chinese tourism and how these ideas resonate with the Chinese tourist is the first step towards more effectively conveying the value of the New Zealand experience.


*Jason Young is a Lecturer in Political Science and International Relations and a Research Fellow at the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington.

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If NZ became GMO free, pesticide free, coal free, tobacco free we would create a actual "value added" society. My local organic cow cocky sells cream for $17 a litre. Search any Palaeolithic diet website. GRASS FED meat and dairy are the buzz words. FREE RANGE anything is demanded. It is really like selling "Aididas shoes" as opposed to "Great Wall shoes". Aididas sell briskly for $200, the Great Wall shoe for $3.47. We have the qualities (green and clean) that the entire world is clamouring for- yet we fall over ourselves to pollute our land and rivers. We let random aliens just come here and take our water, ocean fish, kauri, homes.

You do not have to be a Rocket Surgeon to see that we could do very well in the boutique side of the World's life. Why on Earth are we trying to slug it out with the behemoths, over hamburger and milk powder????

Have to agree its crossed my mind as well, tourism now our number 1 industry. I wonder what attracts them here?

Already under way - including discrimination

A show farm with accommodation targeting "high-end" Chinese tourists to be approved.

The tourist attraction, at 311 Wakari Rd on the Dunedin urban fringe, on rural-zone land, would be developed in three stages. Initially, it would accommodate six couples, increasing capacity to up to 36 couples by the third stage.

The listed owners of the property are Leonard and Amanda Cheng.

The show farm, would NOT be open to the general public, would teach guests about New Zealand farming practices


A few simple ideas to our $2,000,000+ per year Chief Executives.

he sells "cream".
how much cream does he get per litre from the cow?
what is his total cost of production (including land rent at 20c/litre production, and ALL staff input hours)?

Hi Cowboy
I think he has 40 cows. He and his wife and kids do the work.I think he owns the land outright. He sells milk, yogurt, cheese, maple syrup etc. He mostly sells directly to his retail customers. Fonterra cream costs $6 a litre at PacNSave. How much of that $6 would the farmer have received?

family labour is now required to have wahe books kept (and thus written contracts)."
Land owned outright is still an expense (committed equity) we're looking at yield of the business, not cashflow. We're notplaying little Italy and helping ourselves to the till.


If we say cream is 20% of what milk a cow produces (massive variations by breed/genetics and diet and time of season).
But cream is mostly butterfat, and the butterfat is about half the value paid for milk protein, so a third by price.
A farmer currently gets $3.85 for kilo of milksolids. at 7 - 11.8% of a litre is mil solids, so we'll go with 9%, thus it takes 1/0.09 = 11.1 liters of milk to get $3.85.
Which means each liter or milk returns the farm a _total_ of 34.6 cents (town milk is diluted, so the farmer gets less for milk than that.)

For the cream, they get a third of that value = a litre of cream returns around 11.5 cents per litre from the Pa'n'Sav-Fonterra value chain.

Hi Cowboy
Thank you so much for your detailed and informative post. I had no idea that the table was sooo tilted against the farmer. Those numbers are awful! No wonder Forterra can pay so many of its managers $1,000,000+

In a meeting with some dairy stakeholders, including shareholders from Fonterra, I said if Fonterra does not deviate its current model of supplying raw material to consumer-focused companies, at least, Fonterra can use NZ's clean/green image to add some value to its raw material (and differentiate itself a bit) -- milk from a cow standing on and eating pasture ought be superior to one from a in-housed, grain eating cow.

The reply I got from Fonterra's guys were no, no, no, we are an international company with a global milk pool in which milk are sourced from all overall the world with the same high standard.

I then just zipped my gob and waited for a day to justify, and here comes so quickly.

a challenge -
Market the clean and green and healthy and 100% pure NZ image

You are quite right and Fonterra guys so wrong

Fonterra said no, we are an international company with a global milk pool in which milk is sourced from all over the world with the same high standard. PS:- that's what IBM said in 1980 - we are a mainframe computer business - not a personal computer business

If you have never seen the documentary film "Food.Inc" you should watch it - from start to finish

Otherwise watch the segment on dairy cattle being fed corn at the 19'30" mark for a couple of minutes where the rumen is open .. that should give you all an idea on what NZ's competitive advantage really is - smacks you right between the eyes - I challenge you all to watch it


Our clean/green image is an illusion. Do Fonterra really care?


Ok so Fonterra copped a fine ... but were they required to remediate the degradation, or was the fine simply a cost of doing business in the usual way?


_Fonterra_ IS NOT A NEW ZEALAND _COMPANY_. It no longer behaves like one either, especially since TFA/DIRA meant they could dilute the shareholder-suppliers completely,

Fonterra only gets a small part of it's business from NZ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And it can afford to shit all over it's debt and legally committed NZ suppliers, because the NZ farmers can't do anything about it. And it can get away with it because Fonterra has international funding and influence, and does not need NZ supplied milk - in fact as your supermarket prices are revealing now - NZ market and milk is just a nuisance to them

Learn To Social,
Could not agree with you more. Great post and one would have figured that what you espouse to be an absolute "no brainer!
That's until you factor in the billions of dollars Big Pharma has tied up in polluting the environment.
Add farmers supported and encouraged by wilfully blind farming 'leaders?' government officials and our Food 'Safety?' Authorities who despite access to years of legitimate, independent science papers, proving the toxicity and health dangers of chemical farming, absolutely refuse to allow up to date, independent, proven scientific findings to move them from their ignorant adherence to outdated dangerous dogma.
Our Agricultural/horticultural future as exporters of quality, nutritious, safe food,continues to be under the jurisdiction of wilfully blind dunderheads who accept large salaries for having no apparent ability, imagination, or conscience regarding responsibility to their duty.
Their main objective appears to avoid "egg on their faces" to the detriment of our amazing potential for a first class agricultural export industry.

There's an opportunity for "new New Zealanders".

kwiblog General Debate

Odakyu-sen (1,737 comments) says:
August 10th, 2015 at 11:16 am

Listen up, people.

Any government who is willing to “ethnically rinse” the population of its largest city to maintain economic affluence will have absolutely no qualms about applying the same tactic to its rural populations.

Odakyu-sen is a Japanese living in Auckland

non-sequitor. rural has little value to politicians.
Nothing wrong with "rinsing" away foreign ownership, or foreign ownership by proxy. and it's got everything to do with economics and nothing to do with race or ethnicity.

And the one big bug bear to having rural tourist operation is the RMA and Councils interpretations.....who the heck wants to end up going through the Environment Court at a minimum of a $100K to obtain permission??

NZ also has horrendous requirements to comply with Health and safety.........and our food standards are completely different to China's........The NZ authorities in NZ would have a fit if a NZ'er tried to use something like Master Stock which is common in rural China......you'd be shut down!

The Chinese like us want to know where their food comes from and how it is grown.......the problems for NZ lies in our regulatory authorities as they have a a different view on what is acceptable and that is GMO's (in e.g. most corn, soy etc products worldwide) pesticide residues, heavy metal contamination and these are the issues a growing percentage of the worlds population is trying to avoid.....and that is what causes Learn to Socials Adidas vs Great Wall dilemma......it is a bureaucracy induced disease!!

And Chinese have a somewhat different attitude to tobacco......to many of them as long as you are only smoking around 5 per day your body can handle it. So Lto S above wanting a tobacco free NZ wouldn't be able to cater to the large percentage of Chinese who smoke!!

Chinese rural cuisine is very different to traditional NZ foods and most Chinese dislike ours. Many Chinese are extremely good forages......they look for specific barks, foliage, and things most of us wouldn't even consider as being a food source which are added to their dishes.......

I'd like to see and experience what I am unable to in China, and what is unique to NZ, and hopefully that a credible source can convince me that the whole trip is worth the $, the time, and the hustle of getting a visa.

--- told by one of my friends when planning a holiday with several choices.

and you said ? .....................

Cannot recall exactly what I said, but he ended up spending most of days in the South Island and loved it.

Wow and STILL they harp on about green credentials. Complete crap!

'........and to demonstrate our green food credentials can resonate with potential visitors and help disperse the tourist dollar to the regions."

Try this for starters Jason; http://whatsyourimpact.org/greenhouse-gases/nitrous-oxide-sources

That chart seems to indicate around 70% of this pollutant from agriculture; clean green mirage methinks.

Do some research on sustainability/green credentials. Look up Nauru, cadmium, soil loss, PKE, eutrophication and understand the term " green-wash:.

The cadmium one used to crack me up. Fonterra and their fert reps used to say they only had minute unavoidable amounts, and that they tested a range of farms and the soil levels never rose past a certain point. Their decision : "that means it's all ok" .... My reaction "WTF! you're still continuously adding minute amounts, but the measurable level is steady... where is the added amount going?? off farm it must be !! into the food you idiots!.

That's when I switch to Agri-seentials and then to Kiwi Fert, which go for sea vs land (IIRC) based phosphates with out the cadmium.
And away from putting ammonia based products (which I used to killing microflora and microfauna in my house) to a more soil micro-organism focus. We used a small bit of urea (when spraying weeds, buttercup, ragwort, california/scot thistles), never going over 20kg Urea/ha. the industry recommended maximum usage is 180kgN (or about 360 kg Urea).
PKE was too questionable in it's food value and it's quality, and needed extra staff to use. Nice top up product while it's "by-product" supply. But when it's a profitable co-product to make other human food a cheap nasty alternative recipe (Cadbury) it's time to reduce it as an input.

We never really had an issue with waterways picking up nutrients, if anything, grazing river and stream banks removed organic matter that created eco-systems for pathogens and extra nutrient capture. Unlike the daed possum count when Horizon put their current pest control measures in place - all the poisoned animals head for a water source when they feel ill, and there were "dead possum rafts" in places in the streams. Our neighbour had about 50 build up around the weir they used for house water supply. ewww. Had to clean the filter on my water intake because of all the weeds and extras that got caught in currents ever since the fence both sides order came through.

REading the article.

Many Asian visitors have difficult with our "natural" environment because it is so disorderly and unkempt.
The don't want natural bush and wild spaces.
the want vista's like grand canyon or remarkables - preferrably with nice paths and ready access to toilets and seating.
or they want beautiful garden walk ways and open green spaces.
If they milk a cow or pick a kiwifruit it needs to be nice smelling and placid and well managed, they don't want "a day in the life of a worker". they want a visit to the vatican, not to join the seminary.

very vey different to NZers thinking of "going bush" or "natural"

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