Proactively helping F&B exporters
Angus Brown sketches a diagram for
that shows how the New Zealand Food Innovation Network (NZFIN) links all of the country's science and technology resources that can support food or beverage companies into export markets. It's an impressive drawing, which reflects the network, including Callaghan Innovation, various NZFIN facilities, and other capability providers. The FoodBowl is one of those facilities – a purpose-built production plant close to Auckland Airport that's designed for short-run processing of products for testing.
Brown is business development manager for the FoodBowl and NZFIN Auckland and well-schooled on the role of the network in helping both start-up F&B businesses and established companies with new product development projects gear up for export. Helping businesses get to grips with the regulations infrastructure is a major job, he says, especially compliance with MPI standards for exports.
“Compliance can be a challenge. For example, companies may simply assume that they can export their product to a particular market – but certain exotic ingredients may create snags in certain markets.”
Developing products for export can be a rigorous and time consuming process he says, that's why the network is invaluable for linking firms up with everyone from independent food technologists to food safety consultants, contract manufacturers and branding, marketing and packaging specialists.
For the FoodBowl the early days were somewhat quiet as it sought to educate the market about its services. However, an Open Day early in 2013 saw some 700 companies tour the facility and word of mouth has clicked in since then. By the end of 2013 the FoodBowl was a conduit for some 800 companies, with two to five companies utilising the facility per day. The high pressure processing technology for extending the shelf-life of food has especially been popular. However, the door is still open for even greater utilisation of the FoodBowl, says Brown.
He knows of many companies that have made considerable savings in their pathway to market (or scaling up production) by utilising the FoodBowl. A neutraceutical company saved approximately $1 million on new equipment purchasing; an increase of production capability of five to ten times by a chilli sauce manufacturer also meant money saved could be redirected into sales and marketing; and a poultry company utilising