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Food companies invited to work together

Food companies invited to work together

Canterbury food manufacturers are being invited to work together to share knowledge, overcome problems and take advantage of opportunities in an initiative launched by Canterbury Development Corporation and Lincoln University.

The Canterbury Innovative Foods Cluster is being launched next Tuesday 19 May, CDC Sector Manager Agri-Business, Blair Cottam, says.

“There’s so much knowledge within individual companies that would help develop the sector if these companies were able to share information and act collectively on issues,”Mr Cottam says.

CDC and Lincoln University were keen to act as intermediaries to help the industry.

“We’ve got links into some of that knowledge already and we want to flesh out the needs across the food industry and work with the businesses involved to deal with barriers to growth,” he says.

Pitching to large retailers like Foodstuffs, talking about training issues, understanding who has what expertise in new product development and learning the best channels to export markets through shared experiences would be helpful to many food businesses.

Foodstuffs South Island General Manager Retail Operations Alan Malcolmson welcomed the initiative.

“We are pleased to be part of the cluster group and welcome the opportunity it may bring from suppliers and potential suppliers within this region,” he says.

Supporting the initiative, SME company Serra Natural Foods Chief Executive Officer Jim Small says sometimes small businesses could get a little “myopic” about what they were doing.

“Interacting with others can spark some new opportunities and provide a different perspective,”Mr Small says.

Mr Cottam says developing the cluster was part of a wider strategy CDC is pursuing with the food sector. Other parts included offering targeted workshops and working with Lincoln University on the Canterbury Centre for Innovative Foods (CCIF).

The proposed CCIF would include a technology centre with equipment to trial new products and a knowledge centre for businesses to get help and advice on research, development and commercialisation. The knowledge centre would also focus on links to building management capabilities and other services including export advice, compliance and marketing, and could provide an incubation space for food industry tenants.

Any food manufacturers interested in attending next week’s cluster launch can contact Blair Cottam at CDC, (03) 378 0094.


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