An environment of innovation and support


“Having worked with sous-vide products previously we were curious to see how retorting could apply to some of the products and markets we knew. A study of tariffs and import requirements in one of our target markets identified an opportunity for a bone-in meat product for food service provided it could be “canned”. With research and help from The FoodBowl team the company determined that a flexible foil pouch could achieve the same criteria and went ahead with some samples using The FoodBowl’s Steri-Flow Retort machine. The Merit Meats’ customer came over and checked the new product that lead to trial orders, and that enabled validation of the process and testing of certification and packaging.

“The FoodBowl provides the ideal location for pilot production in an organised, professional and well-equipped environment. With Merit Meats most recent product development the company were able to produce 20 pallets of product for initial sale to the target market with several iterations of flavours and packaging until we hit the mark, says Cam Mathias – Founder of Merit Meats.

He explains his project at The FoodBowl: The benefits for the company were significantly more than the hardware, particularly helpful was access to the team and associated service providers. This enabled an acceleration of our development process and enabled a build up of a package of product samples, packaging evolved and technical data including critical control points and control sheets were prepared. This package forms the IP that we license to our partner in a form that is ready to launch. From the partner’s perspective they get a tried and tested product with a strong business case to support their investment.

Merit Meats will always be about innovation and new products. New Zealanders typically start with great raw materials, but can’t wait to get rid of them in the most basic and primal forms possible. Merit Meats is particularly interested in opportunities for sustainable wild game and are planning two new projects in 2016 with The FoodBowl including Paleo Jerky products and a retorted meal using a traditional recipe for a European market. In hindsight one of the most valuable elements of working with The FoodBowl is the general environment of innovation and support. “Everyone from the front office to the stores is enthusiastic about your project and the enticing smells from the other business units remind you that you’re not alone in trying new things, nor crazy for persevering when others tell you it’s time to give up.” The team that Cam employed from Allied Work Force to deliver the labour aspect of the project had to be trained by The FoodBowl staff to operate under proper RMP standards, this up-skilling of local workforce has led to a part-time team being offered a full time role with the contract manufacturing facility.

Merit Meats has now moved the project to a larger contract manufacturer to grow the opportunity which is primarily aimed at the export market of Australia initially but with other countries in mind as the business grows.