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Head honchos from NZ’s food bowl – the Bay of Plenty – want to sell more to Asian consumers as they draw up strategies to help the food sector grow.

The region wants to set up a new research and tertiary education facility, including a new business incubator, to help the food sector flourish over the next decade.

About 20 CEOs involved in the food sector met at the Food Bay of Plenty’s Strategic Leaders Forum last week, according to a press release issued by the group.

Food Bay of Plenty chair Liz Muller says the new business initiatives discussed would help them better understand consumers (particularly those from Asia) and deliver the products they want.

“Over the next decade there will be increased influence from Asia and niche, safe, premium food products will be in demand internationally,” Muller says.

It was the first time key players had brainstormed together to decide how to drive future economic growth and capitalise on the region’s competitive advantage in food production.

Muller says an action plan was drawn up at the forum which agreed to pursue the following ideas and implement them by 2020:

  • Establish a food/horticultural science-based research and tertiary education facility.
  • Establish a “Glass House” business incubator to grow the capability of the region’s business owners, to foster start-ups and to link business funding requirements with investors.
  • Establish a center of excellence in international supply chain and logistics, leveraging ZESPRI’s needs and capability in this area.
  • Attract and retain skilled people to the region by marketing the region’s value proposition.
  • Identify and realise all opportunities for collaboration within the sector to develop innovative new products and new niche market opportunities.

Muller says forum participants (which included leading international companies such as Zespri, Taura Natural Ingredients and Comvita) want to establish the Bay of Plenty as  New Zealand ’s home of safe, premium quality, sustainably produced, science-based food products.

“We have a natural competitive advantage in food production thanks to our great soil, water and climate,” she says. “This means that our horticulture production and supply chain is world-scale and world-class and as a consequence offers this region immense opportunities for added value growth, and higher productivity opportunities.”

Nearly 40% of the total hectares used to grow New Zealand’s fruit, vegetables and other crops is located right here in the Bay of Plenty. More than 80% of the country’s kiwifruit production is in the region, along with 74% of the national avocado crop, and 30% of the national citrus crop.

More than 14,000 people are directly employed by the food production and hospitality sectors in the Bay of Plenty.

Food Bay of Plenty was set up 10 years ago and is a membership-based industry organisation for both large-scale food and beverage operators and owner-operator businesses. It also includes key service providers to the industry.

Food Bay of Plenty also acts as a forum for sharing information and ideas among food producers and processors, and explores opportunities to expand the region’s food exports, create culinary tourism opportunities and expand local industry skills, knowledge and collaboration.

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