This video story explores how The FOODBOWL and the wider New Zealand Food Innovation Network facilitate food innovation in New Zealand. Angus Brown, Business Development Manager, and Brian Astridge, Operations Manager at The FOODBOWL explain how they support clients to develop new product ideas and expand into new markets. Chris Cullen, owner-operator of Culley’s, provides a client’s perspective on how The FOODBOWL helped him expand his hot sauce business.
- The FOODBOWL has significant government funding – why has it been established?
- Why is innovation important for growth in the New Zealand food industry?
- How does The FOODBOWL support and enable innovation?
- Identify and list all the resources available through The FOODBOWL. Group these into types of resources – physical, human and environment – and explain how these resources can help companies to innovate.
- Angus makes the point: “New Zealand cannot supply or feed the world. We can only feed the premium, and we should be up there in making the best and most innovative food products for the future.” Explain what this statement means. Do you agree? What are the implications for people working in the New Zealand food industry?
HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point): HACCP is an internationally recognised tool for food manufacturers to ensure that their products are safe to eat. The system includes planning, monitoring and keeping records to verify the safe production of the food product.
New Zealand has a reputation for producing high-quality raw foods, but companies need to be innovative to create high-value products that can compete in global markets.
The Auckland FOODBOWL is designed to facilitate the development of new food and beverage products and to support and enable growth in exports.
The FOODBOWL is a physical hub – one of four across the country.
It’s for total development of any new ideas, so they could be testing new processes out, they could be trialling new equipment, they could produce products for sale in New Zealand or they could be producing products for export. The FOODBOWL allows companies to come in and teethe out problems before they really invest in their own equipment or in a larger-volume run.
It doesn’t matter whether they’re a small start-up or whether they are a very large corporate, The FOODBOWL can help a lot of these companies in ways that they may not have even thought of.
The FOODBOWL provides seven multi-purpose food-production suites containing large-scale state-of-the-art equipment for processing food and beverages.
It’s the best equipment in the country. It’s like Disneyland, for an ex-chef – it’s high-speed filling machines, conveyer machines, catching tables for when the product comes off the line. The FOODBOWL’s just purchased a new 700 litre kettle, which has nearly doubled my production, and also a very high-tech labelling machine. It’s pretty cool to see 120 bottles a minute go down the line and come off and absolutely every label’s perfectly straight, perfectly adhered onto the bottle.
In addition to physical resources, The FOODBOWL staff are available to support and guide clients in developing their products.
We have a lot of experience with the wide range of equipment that we have available. So companies can come in, and we can help guide them and advise on the best processing methods that they should undertake, the best ingredients that they should use, as well as the best channels that their product should go into.
The FOODBOWL is part of the New Zealand Food Innovation Network, which is designed to facilitate innovation in the development of new food and beverage products.
Above The FOODBOWL, there is this network called New Zealand Food Innovation, which is a virtual network of all the different capability providers within the industry – science outlets like the universities and Crown research institutes, packaging suppliers, ingredients suppliers, equipment suppliers, branding and packaging experts, marketing experts, export and sales experts and then also regulatory entities such as MPI.
We can often find potentials for collaboration with other companies that are doing similar things that might benefit from talking to each other. We can also link companies up with experts in the field so that they can get the best advice from the best people. For instance, we were able to connect up a company that was growing and processing a particular raw material with a company that was needing that raw material for a finished good product.
The good thing at The FOODBOWL is for Angus has multiple meetings with different people from around the globe – and there’s supermarkets in China, there’s European buyers – so it’s great to have my product at The FOODBOWL at any time, he can present it on my behalf, so he’s kind of like my secondary salesperson really.
New Zealand’s size and isolation create particular challenges for companies wanting to export food and beverage products.
In terms of our size and our geographic location, New Zealand is really stuck when it comes to exporting products. We need to make products that can last a long time, that have higher nutrient values or different taste profiles than traditional processing.
Supplying export markets often requires much greater scales of manufacturing than the domestic market.
It’s really hard for small start-ups to go from that commercial kitchen to the next scale, and often they either have to spend a lot of money buying their own equipment or buying a lot of raw materials to go to a contract manufacturer that would often demand them to make a lot of product.
Now that The FOODBOWL exists, all this equipment is readily available to anyone, so they can actually create new innovative products that haven’t been made before.
Going from small batch from a 5 litre to a 80 litre to a 120 litre at The FOODBOWL, it’s not dividing a recipe or multiplying – it doesn’t actually work like that. So it’s been great with the team at The FOODBOWL. They stand in, they give me a hand, we work it out together. There’s been a lot of trial and error. A couple of dud batches, unfortunately. But it’s also quite exciting. It challenges me.
The FOODBOWL’s business infrastructure provides a supportive environment to help clients turn new product ideas into high-value products that can compete in global markets.
I’m the first face that new clients would engage with, so companies would come in, and I would ask them questions about their business and about what they’re wanting to do.
Every client has a different background and different knowledge and understanding. We have people who are experts in food technology but we have people who are experts in marketing and no idea in food technology, so we have to very quickly assess what help and assistance, mentoring and coaching they need during production.
One of the worst things when you’re a small business is getting led down the garden path and thinking something’s going to take 2 months and cost $100 when in fact it’s going to cost $100,000 and 6 months. So it’s about getting people to realise and understand that they don’t know what they don’t know often in terms of validation – what they’ve got to go through.
We have a chilli sauce producer here called Culley’s, and when he first came in, he was making sauce but might not have been making it at the right process for it to be deemed fully safe, so our compliance manager Bhavik helped advise him on the best process for him to take.
What I wanted to achieve at The FOODBOWL was to be able to create a consistent product, a product that is going to be validated in the marketplace. So we do all of the pH testing through a HACCP compliance plan. I operate under The FOODBOWL’s food safety programme, so it’s given me the ability to create one of the most highly certified products in the country.
It’s enabled me to have meetings with the likes of Progressive Enterprises, or Countdown, and be able to sell my products to them. They realise that it is the most highly certified facility in the country and that I have the ability to deliver on their orders. So that is magic – having a full HACCP programme in place and a food safety programme. It means I can instantly export to pretty much any market globally, which is fantastic.
Once a client is finished, we still like to keep in touch, and we can help advise and strategise on how they’re going in the market in terms of their marketing and their roll-out capability. Also we can advise on new products that they can look to make to help keep their portfolio exciting.
As a facility for promoting innovation and growth within New Zealand’s food and export markets, working towards the right strategic goals is vital to The FOODBOWL.
The key drivers behind The FOODBOWL are to help connect, motivate and deliver for the industry, inspiring companies to make new value-added goods for the future. New Zealand cannot supply or feed the world. We can only feed the premium, and we should be up there in making the best and most innovative food products for the future.
Traditionally, a lot of products are seen as commodities, which means they’re being packaged up in bulk and shipped off to other countries where they would then further process and add more value before it went to their end consumer. What we’re doing is adding the most value here in New Zealand before exporting it out. So instead of tonnes and tonnes of bulk meat, we’re packaging it up into fine ready-to-eat meals that are then being exported, which means New Zealand is capturing all of the value.
Where we see The FOODBOWL heading in the future is that we would be increasing our equipment capability as well as our staff resource and be able to help companies in more and new and exciting ways by bringing in newer technologies that can be potential game changers for their particular food products.
Angus Brown and Brian Astridge, The FOODBOWL
Chris Cullen, Culley’s
Bhavik Waghela and Kris Tong, The FOODBOWL
William Laing, Richard Espley and Diane Brewster, Plant & Food Research
Footage of meatworks from Callaghan Innovation and Ovine Automation Consortium, courtesy of Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
Container ship and port footage courtesy of Country TV
CYCLOPOWER™ , Manuka Health