Kiwi foodies are set to get a taste of the future as the latest innovations in food production are showcased next month.
New Zealand AgriFood Week, March 11 – 17 in Manawatu, aims to celebrate, showcase and develop our role as a food producing nation.
There's no doubt the Kiwi diet has come along way from traditional meat and three veg origins with innovative new food and drinks now leaving consumers spoilt for choice.
Our modern diets are constantly changing and even a cursory glance at the evolution of diets over the past 100 years will highlight some major shifts in what staples are in our pantries.
"New Zealand’s 20th century diet typically came from the country’s agricultural bedrock; meat and dairy," says Central Economic Development Agency’s Chief Executive Linda Stewart.
"While dairy still makes up an important part of the New Zealand diet, and economy, (food products are seven of our top ten exports, with dairy and meat holding in the top two places), the kiwi diet is continually expanding,” she says.
Today, there’s a rising number of vegetarians and vegans and this trend is predicted to keep growing (in 2017 six per cent of America’s population claimed to be vegan – that’s 19.5 million people), and this is only becoming easier with the rapidly growing range of plant-based and meat-free alternatives on the market.
“That’s not to say sales are slowing for meat, poultry and dairy, but younger generations and their diets are largely centred around health and strong values, which drives their buying decisions. Is the meat free range? Have the animals been treated ethically? Has the product been produced sustainably?
They may not eat meat every night, instead opting for more expensive, better cuts of meat less often."
New Zealand food producers are known for innovation, whether it’s behind the farm gate, in a science lab, or developing a new product with a brand story that has people buying into an experience that they just can’t say no to.
“New Zealand AgriFood Week is all about highlighting those driving change and leading from the front. This week in Manawatu is designed to drive the national conversation around developing New Zealand’s role as a global food producer.”
So, what new homegrown Kiwi products can shoppers look forward to finding on supermarket shelves, in online orders, and on local café menus?
Here are six we recommend you try.
Kaitahi Smoothie Drops
Take a new approach to your morning smoothie. Kaitahi Frozen Smoothie Drops are packed with indigenous New Zealand superfoods like kumara, kawakawa and puha, with the award-winning Kaitahi team combining cultural tradition with innovation to create an on trend healthful whole food delivered in a new and innovative way.
Eden Orchard Cherry Juice
New Zealand cherries have long been a premium product domestically and internationally, but what happens to the fruit that isn’t quite perfect? In 2017, the Bignell family at Eden Orchards started to juice them, not only saving seconds, and potential waste, they created a new premium cherry product and discovered a whole new market via the myriad of health benefits cherries contain.
Fernglen Farm Performance Protein
All sheep milk is A2 milk, which lactose intolerant people find easier to digest and being naturally sweet, it doesn’t require much added sugar to make it a super tasty flavoured milk. Performance Protein was founded by the Ravenswood family who are sheep and beef farmers in Wairarapa. The development of Performance Protein is a family effort, largely driven by son Cameron who wanted a high-value product that could offer a higher and more consistent income compared to the fluctuating commodities of sheep, beef and wool. Fernglen Farm creates all-natural Performance Protein Sheep Milk in chocolate, coffee and vanilla.
Spirulina has been a perennial favourite superfood, gluten free and chock full of antioxidants, iron, and micronutrients. It has never been grown in New Zealand, until now. Take French innovation and Kiwi ingenuity and you’ll find Tahi Spirulina, who is growing and harvesting this ancient superfood from a modern and sustainable farming operation in the small seaside community of Himatangi in Manawatu. The company says just sprinkle and serve, spirulina hummus anyone?
Founders Dan and Jacqui Cottrell came across quinoa plantations while travelling in South America, and the similarities in land and altitude to Dan’s family farm in Taihape led them to return home and try growing the superfood themselves. Fast forward a few years and trial crops later, and their Kiwi Quinoa can now be found on the shelves of selected supermarkets and boutique food stores.
Rebel Bakehouse Cricket Flour, Hemp and Purple Corn Wraps
Rebel Bakehouse is the latest innovation from Breadcraft, a company with a 75-year heritage based in the Wairarapa, who are about to launch Cricket Flour, Hemp and Purple Corn wraps. Rebel Bakehouse wants to do its part in making the world more sustainable by using alternative proteins like crickets and hemp. Recognising the growing demand for healthy, sustainable, and alternative proteins - these will be the first wraps of their kind in New Zealand. Two billion people around the world already consume crickets each day, which contain twice the amount of iron than spinach. These products will be hitting the shelves in March.
These companies will all be presenting at different events throughout New Zealand AgriFood Week, visit NZAgriFoodWeek.co.nz for more information.
This article was created for NZ AgriFood Week, delivered by the Central Economic Development Agency, in association with ASB.