Full suite of support to make ideas come to life – Leaft Foods
Jan 27

Full suite of support to make ideas come to life – Leaft Foods

When nobody has done what you’re doing, you want a full suite of support to make your idea come to life.

That’s exactly what John and Maury Leyland Penno got when they pulled in the expertise of FoodSouth (and the wider NZFIN network) in their journey to create a high-value sustainable leaf protein concentrate which has a lighter environmental footprint than alternative products.

Their Canterbury-based Leaft Foods, headed by General Manager Ross Milne and Food Technologist Nicola Wilson, has worked with FoodSouth since 2019. Both are based at Lincoln, so the proximity has led to a strong and productive partnership. But the true value though comes in Leaft’s access to the entire national network and they have utilised four of the different hubs in the development journey so far.

Early on, FoodSouth helped connect the Leaft team with universities and research organisations, to secure funding from Callaghan Innovation and later to help prove the initial concept to secure further funding from The Ministry for Primary Industries Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund.

Critically, being able to hire time to utilise machinery enabled Leaft to ‘try before you buy’ on some key pieces of equipment, providing the experience and resources they needed to get off the ground.

Leaft’s development journey and the processes involved remain tightly under wraps, so protecting their IP was critical and that was something the network supported throughout the journey, reconfiguring their space for added security.

Both Ross and Nicola acknowledge that what they are doing is still high risk and no one globally has done what they are attempting, but after all the work alongside the NZFIN network over the last few years, Leaft is moving forward with confidence.

“The reality is we would not have got to where we are today – that’s the advantage of the NZFIN system. It’s been a full solution without us having to invest many millions of dollars in the early stages,” Ross says.
“We are where we are today because the NZFIN facilities exist.”