On Tuesday 4th of June, Waikato Food Inc held the first Waikato Food Forum at New Zealand’s only commercial tea estate and local food icon Zealong Tea Estate. This local initiative was target at enabling the growth of the Waikato as a food growing, manufacturing and preparing powerhouse for New Zealand. The Waikato is well known for its commodity dairy production, but the Waikato has so much more to offer. In the words of Waikato Food Inc chair Vicki Ravlich-Horan, “The Waikato region has a wealth of world class producers and eateries, many of which go under the radar. Waikato Food Inc aims to change this by raising the profile and calibre of food and hospitality in Waikato. To do this we need to bring everyone together and forge a strong connected community”
The forum highlighted the need to enable producers, distributors, buyers and service providers to connect. There is a lot of interest and enthusiasm out there, and clearly a need for a well-resourced plan to bring the threads together. Funding was highlighted as an issue, with the current work being done largely on a volunteer basis
Craig Hoare from the Food Innovation Network’s FoodWaikato branch attended and participated in the panel discussion, which provided the Foodies the opportunity to express their issues and opportunities to the group and get some insight and action from the participants in the panel as to how best to progress to move the region forward. Craig is available as a free resource those who want to start a food business or move an existing business to the next level. He can offer advice on business models, put people in contact with suppliers, experts and 3rd party manufacturers, assist in procuring innovation grants and help with basic problem solving. You can contact Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org.