Health and convenience triumphs at 2018 NZ Food Awards

Ross Kane, managing director of Speirs Foods, parent company of The Whole Mix Co. Limited, who were awarded the Massey University Supreme Award and Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas.

A vegetable noodle range produced by a company from the small Rangitikei town of Marton has taken out the Massey University Supreme Award winner at this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

The Whole Mix Co. Limited also won the Massey University Health and Wellbeing Award and the James & Wells Business Innovation Award for its noodle range that includes Zucchini, Butternut, Medley (Beetroot, Carrot, Zucchini) and Kumara. Judges said the products are a tasty and nutritious alternative to pasta, can be used in stir-frys and salads, or eaten straight from the package and their growing popularity reflects some of the changing tastes of New Zealand consumers.

Ross Kane, Managing Director of Speirs Foods, parent company of The Whole Mix Co. Limited, says winning the awards is recognition of the way the company has evolved and improved over the past 18 months.

“We got the team reinvigorated, got the right culture within the business and set a goal of being more innovative and producing what people really wanted in the market place, and I think it’s just a celebration of that journey over the past 12 to 18 months,” Mr Kane says.

The collective team of judges say the vegetable noodle range rides the wave of market demand for easy to serve fresh vegetables, with a twist. “These prepacked, spiralised, microwaveable vegetable noodles, prepared from locally-grown vegetables, are delicious, nutritious and fill a much needed gap in the fresh vegetable market. Consumers are crying out for fresh products they can cook or prepare quickly and easily."

The judges especially loved that the vege noodles were so versatile, and could be served up raw to spice up a salad, or microwaved to offer additional nutritional vegetable options for busy Kiwis. “This product demonstrates innovation, creativity and tasty NZ grown produce. Well done to the team at The Whole Mix Co. Limited,” they said.

Head of James & Wells’ Food & Beverage Innovation team Carrick Robinson says, “The Whole Mix Co. Limited have listened to their consumers and have followed healthy eating and convenience trends to considerably grow the category. They have innovatively adapted the way every department operates following the launch of the new consumer brand and also understand the value of protecting it.”

From left: Minister for Biosecurity, Food Safety and Rural Communities, The Hon Damien O’Connor, Alliance Group Ltd general manager marketing Peter Russell and general manager of the Omega Lamb Project Mark Williamson.

Innovative products awarded

The 11 category winners and Supreme Award winner were unveiled at the gala dinner event at Auckland’s SkyCity Convention Centre last night, in front of 400 guests.

The awards, which have been running since 1987, celebrate creative innovation from New Zealand’s food and beverage manufacturers. More than 220 products were entered this year, with 67 products from 54 companies being named finalists.

Christchurch-based company Alliance Group Ltd also took out two award categories for its Te Mana Lamb – the Frozen Award, in association with Palmerston North City Council and the New Zealand Food Safety Primary Sector Products Award.

Other companies recognised for their outstanding and innovative products include the Clevedon Buffalo Company who won the Cuisine Artisan Award for its Garlic and Thyme Marinated Buffalo Cheese, 8 Wired Brewing Company who won The Shout Alcoholic Beverage Award for its Cucumber Hippy, and NoShortcuts Ltd who won the Countdown Grocery Foods Award, for its Feijoa Kasundi.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas thanked all the entrants and congratulated the finalists and winners.

“The quality of entries and increased interest in the awards reflects a remarkable growth in the sector’s innovation and also the confidence of New Zealand companies to compete in global and domestic markets,” Professor Thomas says. “The demand for food with proven health and nutritional benefits – and, of course, great flavours – will continue to provide economic benefit to Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Massey University is very proud to be associated with the New Zealand Food Awards for 31 years now. We are committed to encouraging local businesses to continue to grow, experiment and create fantastic products by recognising them for their efforts.”

From left: The FoodBowl chief executive Alexander Allan, general manager PĀMU Foods Sarah Risell and PĀMU business development manager Hamish Glendinning.

Another year of high quality entrants

The judging panel included food writer and cookbook author Nici Wickes, award-winning chef Geoff Scott, renowned chef and food writer Ray McVinnie, and New Zealand’s first certified beer cicerone (beer expert) and founder of Moa Brewing Company Josh Scott.

The group, as well as several technical judges and three consumer judges, sampled some of New Zealand’s finest food and beverages, to come up with the category winners, and the overall Massey University Supreme Award winner.

Winning products are eligible to use the New Zealand Food Awards Quality Mark, domestically and internationally.

For more information, please visit

And the winners are...

Massey University Supreme Award

The Whole Mix Co. Limited

Cuisine Artisan Award

Clevedon Buffalo Company - Marinated Buffalo Cheese: Garlic and Thyme

Cuisine Artisan Award - highly commended

Poaka NZ Ltd - Poaka Finocchiona Fermented and Air Matured Salami

Lot Eight Ltd - Cold Pressed Yuzu Olive Oil

Countdown Grocery Foods Award

NoShortcuts Ltd - Feijoa Kasundi

Chilled/Short Shelf Life Award, in association with Eagle Protect

Savour Ltd - Casheta Vegan Cheese

Frozen Award, in association with Palmerston North City Council

Alliance Group Ltd - Te Mana Lamb

Non-Alcoholic Beverages Award, in association with FoodHQ

The Apple Press - JAZZ Apple Juice

The Shout Alcoholic Beverages Award

8 Wired Brewing Company - Cucumber Hippy

Massey University Health & Wellbeing Award

The Whole Mix Co. Limited - Vegetable Noodle Range

New Zealand Food Safety, Food Safety Culture Award

Picot Productions Ltd

New Zealand Food Safety Primary Sector Products Award

Alliance Group Ltd - Te Mana Lamb

Novel Food or Beverage Award, in association with ATEED and The FoodBowl

PĀMU Landcorp Group Ltd - PĀMU Deer Milk

James & Wells Business Innovation Award

The Whole Mix Co. Limited

Related articles

Entries open for revamped 2021 New Zealand Food Awards
Massey’s food innovation legacy celebrated in ‘NZ Food Heroes’
NZ Food Awards showcases future of food
Entries now open for the 2019 New Zealand Food Awards

More related articles