Food innovation key to Taranaki’s economic future

Avocado growing is among the food production opportunities to be discussed at a conference on food futures for Taranaki.

Goat and sheep’s milk, avocados and aquaculture may not be products traditionally associated with Taranaki. But food industry experts will explore opportunities such as these for the region’s diversifying food and beverage sector at a conference next week.

The all-day event on Friday, 22 January, organised by Massey University and Venture Taranaki, will provide case studies as well as information and guidance from agrifood specialists for people interested in Taranaki’s food and beverage sector development.

Food Futures Taranaki 2016 includes presentations on global food market opportunities; food and food processing innovations; regional food and beverage sector development initiatives; Māori agri-business ventures; the evolving sheep dairying sector in New Zealand; nutraceutical and pharmaceutical market opportunities, and food export security.

Professor Richard Archer, from Massey’s Institute of Food Science and Technology and director of the New Zealand Innovation Food Network Ltd, and local pancake exporters Van Dyck’s Fine Foods (which won the Supreme Business Award in Taranaki Business Excellence Awards recently), are among the presenters.

Food production opportunities abound for fertile Taranaki

Organiser Eve Kawana-Brown, New Plymouth-based regional business development manager for Massey University, says the food and beverage industry contributed more than $30 billion to New Zealand’s export economy in 2014, and the government’s growth agenda seeks to triple this over the next 15 years.

“We could become a key supplier of nutritious food to a global population of nine billion people by 2050, and in recent years our wine, honey, aquaculture and avocado industries have emerged into world-leading sectors,” Ms Kawana-Brown says.

“There is significant potential”, she adds. “New Zealand is the size of Italy, yet Italy feeds a domestic population of 60 million people and exports twice as much food and beverage as New Zealand.”

“Taranaki is already well invested in growing, producing and exporting food. We know we have significant landholdings, capability and capacity for a vibrant food and beverage economy. Growth, innovation and diversification demand vision, resources, knowledge and confidence.”

Speakers representing FoodHQ, New Zealand Food Innovation Network, PharmaTech, Natural Products NZ Ltd, NZ Sheep Dairying, Te Tumu Paeroa, Federated Farmers and more will present alongside other speakers from Massey University.

World needs more food

Massey’s Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey will give a keynote address on the theme of the conference. Massey hosted a similar event in Auckland and Wellington in November, and produced a specialist publication, Future NZ, with the New Zealand Herald, on global food issues and their relevance to New Zealand.

“Food is, and will remain, one of the big issues of the century,” Mr Maharey says. “In simple terms, the world needs more food, and better food, sustainably produced.”

“As a food-producing nation, New Zealand has a tremendous opportunity to make the most of the food revolution by moving what it does best up the value chain.”

He says Taranaki is particularly well endowed with superb natural advantages, as well as talented business leaders, to be able to build on its reputation as a top food producer and product innovator.

The conference will be of special interest to farmers and agri-sector services, landowners and investors, food production and food processing sector leaders, iwi and Māori enterprise, professional advisors, lawyers and accountants, agri and business bankers, local government, economic and social development interests, research and science professionals, food marketers and exporters.

Event information:

Food Futures Taranaki 2016 will run from 9am to 4pm at the Devon Hotel, 390 Devon Street East.

To register or for more information go to:, or contact Eve Kawana-Brown:

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