The government has injected A$21m into its new scheme, the Food Innovation Network, to be phased in over the next five years.
Under the grid, the government and industry will work collaboratively across four facilities aimed at driving innovation, quality and value of export food products.
The processed food sector accounts for A$2.1bn of the country’s total exports but only represents 9% of the food and beverage sector as a whole and so, the scheme targets this area.
It will provide access to research and development that many of New Zealand’s manufacturers are unable to afford.
The ministry of economic development told FoodNavigator-Asia: “The network is the first specifically processed food initiative… it facilitates knowledge-sharing and allows access to food innovation for manufacturers, researchers and educators.”
“It was initiated after extensive consultation with New Zealand firms pointed to a clear need and demand for such facilities,” it added.
The Food Bowl complex, one of the four planned facilities, opened in Auckland and will operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
David Carter, acting minister for economic development, said: “ The centre will enable food manufacturers to develop and trial products for commercialisation, and it will help address critical gaps in the product development pipeline.”
“To meet increasing demand, we need food and beverage sectors that are smart, innovative, flexible and above all world-class… this new centre will certainly help achieve this,” he added.
Tony Nowell, chairman of the Board of New Zealand Food Innovation Manukau (NZFIM), said that the new centre is a significant step towards filling a market gap.
“Within the food sector, there is a wide gap between those companies who want to commercialise products and the resources available to enable that commercialisation,” he explained.
The ministry said that the centre is focused on processed and fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs) foods and will be accessible to all sized businesses.
The other three centres will focus on different sectors including dairy and infant formula, fruit and vegetables and general food and beverages, it added.
Valuable and innovative exports
Gerry Brownlee, previous minister of economic development, said that the scheme should enable manufacturers to develop high-value foods and beverages for the export market more rapidly.
With the food and beverage sector accounting for half of New Zealand’s export earnings, Brownlee said it is an important focal point.
“We want to see local companies accelerate product development, develop foreign markets and maintain an in-market presence,” he said.