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Key outcomes from Future Foods Conference

More than 170 delegates from across the New Zealand food industry discussed the global future of food and the opportunities for New Zealand and Hawke’s Bay food producers at yesterday’s Future Foods conference.

Business Hawke’s Bay CEO, Carolyn Neville says the conference brought together the leading lights of New Zealand’s food and food technology industries to hear from international experts from around New Zealand on:

• Global food trends and how to capitalise on them
• Future foods technology and packaging
• Alternative proteins
• Adding value and taking our produce from land to brand

“It’s important that our food producers hear first-hand about the trends and issues affecting the future of food. By holding the conference, we’re building awareness, bringing opportunities to the fore, starting conversations and building connections across the food industry.

“One thing that came through loud and clear from our speakers was that we must drive greater value for New Zealand produce. That involves developing a deeper understanding of what global consumers want, connecting with them and making products they are prepared to pay for.

“Some of the consumer-driven trends we’re seeing such as grass-fed, organic, ethical, traceable and sustainable, New Zealand is already doing, but we’re not fully realising its value.

“One of our speakers, Natasha Telles D’Costa from business consultants Frost & Sullivan describes our challenge really well. It’s all about taking a product from Hawke’s Bay and giving it a story that makes consumers half way around the world feel connected to it, and make it their own. That’s where we can generate real value.

“The people that are consuming our produce are the ones we need to communicate with, whether it’s an end product or an ingredient that’s being sold. We must tell our New Zealand story more effectively and to the right customers,” says Mrs Neville.

Another speaker, futurist Melissa Clark- Reynolds, quoting Clayton Christensen, reminded the audience that there are no disruptive technologies, only disruptive business models, and cited examples such as Blockbuster Video and Netflix and Borders and Amazon and Kindle.

“New Zealand producers need to understand that the business models under which people buy and consume food today will not be the same business models that they’ll use in the future. Subscription models that connect suppliers directly to customers and those that use rich data (like Amazon) to predict customer demand are the business models of the future.

“The commodity business model that New Zealand uses will soon be broken. We need to move New Zealand from volume to value. In the future the non-physical attributes of food, the way that customers think about food and the story of that food, will be where the real value of the food industry will come from.

“We need to anticipate the needs of our customers and understand that in the next 10 years we’ll see disruption in the form of changing business models. That’s the challenge and opportunity for New Zealand producers,” says Ms Clark-Reynolds.
Carolyn Neville says that the quality of questions from conference delegates was excellent.

“It will allow us to delve deeper as we explore the opportunities. The conference has shown that there is real interest in developing value-added opportunities and Business Hawke’s Bay will be working hard to build on the momentum of the conference and develop capabilities and support networks to help us to do that.”

Key actions from the conference:
• Creation of a goat special interest group (meat/fibre/milk) researching customer insight, world best-practice and developing a regional business case for Hawke’s Bay
• Creation of a hemp special interest group (fibre/medicine/food) to explore customer oriented opportunities
• Workshops to delve deeper into specific areas such as consumer demands and expectations of bio-plastics and intelligent packaging.

The Future Foods Conference is a key action in Matariki Hawke’s Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy (HBREDS) work led by Business Hawke’s Bay, to undertake specific food and beverage global opportunity assessments in order to identify new market-led opportunities for Hawke’s Bay businesses.

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