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Local food businesses work on online tool

20 October 2016, The Gisborne Herald

FOUR Gisborne businesses have become the first in New Zealand to provide input into a new online tool intended to help the food and beverage sector. 

The New Zealand Food Innovation Network is developing the online tool and NZFIN East Coast business development manger Sally Gallagher said Tairawhiti was a natural place to start a series of workshops around the country.

“We’re holding workshops around the country, and agreed that it would be a great idea to start here in Tairawhiti, one of the leading food bowls of New Zealand.

“We understand the challenges with commercialising innovation and scaling up in the F&B space. To support new and established businesses in the F&B industry, we developed the Innovation Jigsaw Workshop: Piecing the F&B Puzzle Together.

“In each workshop, we worked one-on-one with a local company to help them gain a deeper understanding of all the key areas that need to be considered with an F&B development project. We looked at their individual projects, assessing where they are now and how NZFIN and Activate Tairawhiti’s Regional Business Partners can help.”

Resources to support food and beverage businesses

NZFIN offered a national network of science and technology resources to support the growth of New Zealand food and beverage businesses at every stage from concept through to product development, upscaling and exporting.

It already worked closely with a number of Tairawhiti-based F&B businesses, many through the Regional Business Partners at Activate Tairawhiti.

NZFIN chief executive Sarita Males said the feedback received through the workshops would be used to create a smart online tool for F&B businesses.

“They’ll be able to use this tool to work through all the key stages in the F&B journey, from idea to market.”

Massey University’s FoodPilot client manager Kirsty Blair said Gisborne and the wider Tairawhiti region was an “exciting” one for food and beverage innovation.

“I’m always amazed and inspired when I come here. There are so many different ideas, and entrepreneurs with fantastic insights, enthusiasm, passion and drive. There are a lot of dreams in this region, and our motto is to help turn those dreams into reality.”

Start-ups and established businesses

Regional Business Partner Jo Emerre said the local businesses involved in the Gisborne workshops included start-ups and established companies working in the areas of seafood, juice and gut health.

“The workshops were extremely well received and covered a lot of ground.

“There are so many different aspects to consider in the F&B space, including market validation, compliance, regulations, food safety, path to market, product claims, shelf life, taste and branding.

“Working with the Food Innovation Network, I can connect local businesses to resources, laboratories for testing, and a network of specialists throughout New Zealand. There’s also the potential for co-funding research and development.”

She reminded local businesses that they could access NZFIN support by contacting Activate Tairawhiti at the Tairawhiti Business Hub.

Participant Jack Tomoana described the workshop as “a fantastic hui with lots of enthusiasm.”

“It has given us a lot more direction and the ability to take what’s in our heads and map out a better game plan.”

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