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New programme highlights career paths in food supply chain

Twenty-seven high school students from across the Canterbury region have recently completed a four-day live-in programme at Lincoln University to learn more about career paths in the food production supply chain.

Held from April 15-18, the inaugural Rabobank FoodX programme was attended by year 12 and 13 students from 11 different urban high schools across the Canterbury region. Students on the programme were nominated by their school’s career adviser and were predominantly from schools which do not offer agriculture as part of their curriculum.

The programme, run in conjunction with Lincoln University and New Zealand Young Farmers, exposed participants to animals, food production, food marketing, agribusiness and science and included visits to Rakaia Island, the Lincoln University Research dairy farm, Gladfield Malt, Three Boys Brewery, Hellers and Mount Peel Station.

Participant Anna Yates, a year 12 student from Cashmere High School, said the programme had been an “amazing experience” and she’d really enjoyed learning more about how food products move through the supply chain.

“I really loved the different tours on the programme and found it fascinating seeing what actually happens to raw food materials once they’ve left the farm and the process they go through to get to the final product,” she said.

“One of our visits was to Gladfield Malt where we saw how they were growing the malting barley and then the next afternoon we saw the next step at Three Boys Brewery who showed us how they use the Gladfield malt in their beer.”

Anna said students also had the opportunity to follow milk products through the supply chain with the group visiting dairy farms on Rakaia Island along with the Lincoln University Dairy Research Farm and milk processor Synlait.

“I found it really interesting learning about what the dairy operations we visited were doing to try and minimise their impacts on the environment,” she said.

“This was the topic that I learnt the most about over the course of the four days and I was so amazed by this as I didn’t have any idea how much of a focus it was.”

In addition to the various visits to farms and agribusinesses, Anna said the programme included a number of other activities which provided information on the range of career opportunities available in the food sector.

“On the first day we had the chance to hear from a number of different young people who are working in various roles across the food sector and I took a lot away from listening to them talk about the different pathways and routes they’ve taken to end up in their current roles,” she said.

“We also did an exercise with event organisers later in the week where we looked at all the different jobs that are associated with making a bottle of milk and this illustrated there are heaps of roles linked to the production of this one product. There was also plenty of useful information provided during this exercise on the qualifications required for different roles and the potential pay and perks for various positions.”

Anna said she’d been considering a career in the food sector and attending the programme had cemented her desire to pursue a career in the industry.

“I didn’t have a lot of hands-on experience with the sector before the programme so it was great to get a better understanding of some of the opportunities on offer,” she said.

“I’m now really keen to do a Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing at Lincoln University and, at this stage, am leaning towards pursuing a career in something like rural finance or as a farm advisor.”

The FoodX Programme was developed by Rabobank’s Canterbury Client Council –

a group of Canterbury-based Rabobank clients who meet regularly to discuss the key industry issues impacting the agricultural sector and to implement ideas to contribute to the sustainability of rural communities.

Canterbury Client Council chairperson Mark Hawkins said the programme was one of a number of initiatives the council had run in recent years to highlight career paths in the agricultural sector.

“Over the last couple of years we’ve run the Rabobank Farm Experience Programme which provided a small number of urban secondary school students with the chance to spend a week on farm with a farming family from the Canterbury region,” he said.

“We’ve seen several of the participants on this programme go on to pick up jobs or undertake further education in the agricultural sector, and on this basis the initiative can be viewed as a success, however this year we wanted to scale-up what we were doing and develop something which would provide a greater number of students with an opportunity to learn about food and agribusiness careers.”

Mr Hawkins said the council felt the best way to do this was to enlist the help of Lincoln University and NZ Young Farmers.

“Given the aims of the programme, it seemed a natural fit to partner with Lincoln University and New Zealand Young Farmers and their knowledge and contacts have been crucial in pulling the event together. We were also able to draw on the experiences of the Rabobank Waikato Client Council who have run an event similar to the FoodX programme over the last four years,” he said.

Mr Hawkins said initial feedback from the students who participated had been excellent.

“Most of the students on the programme had little knowledge of the food sector prior to their attendance and I think many have come away with a whole new appreciation of the types of roles available,” he said.

“The format worked really well and since the event has finished a few of the participants have been in touch with event organisers to gather more information on roles that were highlighted during the programme.”


Rabobank New Zealand is a part of the global Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has nearly 120 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 40 countries, servicing the needs of about 8.6 million clients worldwide through a network of close to 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank New Zealand is one of the country's leading agricultural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the New Zealand food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 32 branches throughout New Zealand.


Media contacts:

David Johnston
Marketing & Media Relations Manager
Rabobank New Zealand
Phone: 04 819 2711 or 027 477 8153

Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations 
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 
Phone: +612 8115 2744 or +61 2 439 603 525