A new multi-disciplinary agribusiness degree course taking food production beyond the farm gate and onto the world stage is experiencing 150 percent growth in new enrolment numbers in only the second year it has been offered at Lincoln University.
Developed combat a lack of graduates prepared for careers in the agri-food supply chain, the Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing degree (B.AFM) has gone from 20 students in 2014 to 50 students this year.
It is one of the success stories at Lincoln University’s Te Waihora campus which has seen good growth in new student enrolments in 2015, both for New Zealand and international students.
Senior Agribusiness Management lecturer Nic Lees says the degree was a unique course in New Zealand “in that it is an integrated course that includes both commerce and science papers”.
“The mix of business, food quality and safety, supply chain management and marketing is what differentiates the programme.”
Mr Lees, who is the director of Lincoln’s Agribusiness and Food Marketing programme says the degree was developed in conjunction with leading agri-food companies.
“They have been saying that there is a lack of graduates prepared for careers in the agri-food supply chain beyond the farm gate. New Zealand has traditionally been good at producing food but there is a lack of expertise in marketing and value adding.”
The agribusiness degree has been endorsed by the Australian and New Zealand Produce Marketing Association and agri-food companies such as Zespri, Fonterra, Synlait Milk, ANZCO Foods, Silver Fern Farms and First Light Foods.
Mr Lees says the degree equips students with a sound applied knowledge of core business concepts and the unique commercial considerations of the international agrifood industry. Students gain a contextual understanding of the global agribusiness and food marketing sectors. The degree is appealing to a wide range of students.
Mr Lees says of the enrolments there are 40 domestic students and 10 international students. Around half are from urban backgrounds and two thirds are female.
He says student numbers are expected to increase even more and the degree will become a flagship programme complimenting the Lincoln Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) and Bachelor of Agricultural Science degrees.
He says graduates will have career opportunities in many areas including food marketing, product development, packaging, sales, promotion, advertising, business development, retail management, brand management, global food security and transport logistics.
He says agribusiness is New Zealand’s largest industry producing 66 per cent of New Zealand’s exports and 18 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP and the largest part of the industry is the downstream processing and value adding activities.
These activities are responsible for more than 13 percent of New Zealand GDP with on farm production responsible for only five percent.
Therefore, there are many career opportunities in agribusiness and the food supply chain outside of on farm production.
He says many students are choosing the degree who may have previously done a generic marketing or business degree or a degree in food and nutrition science, and they see the logic in a degree that combines these.
“This is what employers are telling us. They want students who understand the technical aspects of food and things like food safety and nutrition, but also understand the marking and commercial aspect of the food industry.”