Food producers told to connect with consumers

The global future of food and new opportunities for New Zealand food producers have been under the spotlight at a conference in Hawke's Bay.

More than 170 delegates from New Zealand's food industry attended the Future Foods conference on Wednesday, discussing a range of issues including global food trends and how to capitalise on them, future foods technology and packaging, and alternative proteins.

The event was organised by Business Hawke's Bay, with CEO Carolyn Neville saying driving greater value from New Zealand produce was a key message from speakers.

"That involves developing a deeper understanding of what global consumers want, connecting with them and making products they are prepared to pay for," she said.

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

She stressed that communication with consumers is key.

"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," she said.

"We must tell our New Zealand story more effectively and to the right customers." 

Key actions from the conference include:

  • 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.