New Zealand has reached ‘peak milk’ and our dairy companies must become more competitive if they are to secure future returns.

But what can New Zealand milk companies do to earn more from distant but highly valuable offshore markets, such as China and potentially the UK, if we are to compete against larger and increasingly agile rivals with seemingly dominant positions there?

Examining the world’s most successful innovators who have risen to the top of complex, global industries by carving out competitive positions and unseating established players, offers us clues as to how.

Companies like Tesla, for example, have done so by innovating not only their products, but also their business models and entire supply chains right through to their customers, simultaneously creating and capturing more value in the process.

In many ways, Tesla represents the ultimate example of building competitiveness through ‘value-chain innovation.’

If we are to emulate the world’s best and drive higher returns from New Zealand milk, then we must look beyond simple ‘value-add’ thinking and embrace total value-chain innovation.

How, then, do we innovate not only our milk products but also our milk companies’ underlying business models, supply chains, distribution channels and customer experiences?

How do we create and capture more value for the benefit of our companies, consumers and society too?

How do we build the ‘Tesla of Milk’?