NZ agriculture is set for what looks likely to be a generally profitable season in 2020/21, with most sectors seeing average to above-average pricing, manageable cost inflation, and production holding up well.
In the newly-created role, Holgate will help the bank’s clients position themselves to best manage increasing environmental, societal and market risk as well as seizing opportunities created by a scarcity of resources and a growing global population.
Based in Dunedin, Holgate has been with Rabobank since 2013, most recently as the sustainability and animal proteins analyst within the bank’s RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness team.
Announcing the appointment, Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris said Holgate was well suited to take up the new position given his wide sector knowledge and industry experience.
“Growing up on a beef and sheep property in South Otago, Blake has a deep understanding of the New Zealand’s agricultural sector. His practical knowledge and extensive research skills, combined with the strong relationships he has developed with key stakeholders from across New Zealand’s major agricultural industries, make him the ideal candidate to take the bank’s sustainability strategy to the next level,” he said.
”In his time with Rabobank, Blake has also proven himself to be an excellent communicator and he possesses a breadth of skills and experience that will be extremely valuable to our clients and the business overall.”
Charteris said Holgate’s appointment would allow the bank to further build its capability in the sustainability space.
“With our agribusiness focus, Rabobank is acutely aware of the market forces and regulatory changes related to sustainability that are impacting our clients and we’re committed to helping them to understand and address the resulting challenges,” he said.
“This support includes making policy submissions to government — which incorporate our views and those of our clients on legislation and regulation affecting the sector — as we as providing clients with in-depth reports examining issues linked to sustainable farming. We’ve also recently developed a new approach to help our clients build a detailed snapshot of the non-financial performance of their business which includes collection of information relating to their agronomic, environmental, and social and workplace performance.
“Blake’s appointment will allow us to place increased focus on these existing sustainability initiatives and ensure we’re effectively advocating for our clients and providing them with meaningful information that helps guide their business decisions.”
In addition, Charteris said Holgate would play a pivotal role in Rabobank’s efforts to develop additional products and services aimed at helping clients businesses be more commercially and environmentally sustainable.
“We expect to see the market for sustainable finance — finance specifically used for activities which produce a verifiable positive impact on the environment or society — to grow strongly over coming years and Blake will play a lead role in identifying new opportunities for the bank and our clients in this area,” he said.
“He’ll also work closely with KiwiHarvest — our new national food rescue charity partner — to help address food waste issues within New Zealand’s food and agribusiness supply chain.”
As part of the new role, Holgate would join a wider global sustainability team with members located across the Rabobank network.
“As a global food and agribusiness banking specialist, Rabobank has partners and clients at every step in the global food and agribusiness supply chain and is committed to working with participants across the agricultural industry to facilitate a sustainable food system.”
Raring to go
Blake Holgate said he was excited to move into the new role.
"The pressure facing New Zealand food producers from both consumers and regulators is creating significant challenges, but the strength of New Zealand farmers and growers has always been their ability to turn challenges like these into opportunities," he said.
"It's exciting to be moving into a position where I get to work with clients and an industry focused on delivering practices and innovations that will further strengthen New Zealand's global reputation as efficient producers of high quality, sustainable food products."
Holgate holds a MBA from Otago University and prior to joining Rabobank, practised as an environmental lawyer.