A number of new initiatives aiming to reduce food waste and address food insecurity were launched by the Government on Tuesday.
It comes as the economic fallout of COVID-19 has placed greater pressure on foodbanks around the country which are struggling to keep up with increasing demand.
Five new initiatives on Tuesday received funding of up to $100,000 each for a 10-week development and trial period.
The projects are:
- an online marketplace for food producers to list surplus product.
- a produce box-based supply channel, capable of providing a selection of produce to
- vulnerable households impacted by COVID-19
- an online marketplace platform focused on supporting the smaller in-shore fishing fleet by connecting fishers directly with local consumers
- an online marketplace which uses a unique algorithm to connect consumers to local producers and a delivery service
- an extension to the ‘Meat the Need’ programme to a new charitable supply chain
The Government earmarked $14.9 million over two years in this year's Budget to pay for programmes such as these, redirecting food from the primary sector that would otherwise be wasted to those in need.
The Budget also allocated $32 million towards supporting foodbanks and expanding a school lunch programme.
Earlier this year the Government redirected surplus pork to foodbanks in an effort to avoid an animal welfare crisis.
The pork sector struggled during the nationwide lockdown as the closure of independent butcheries, small retailers and restaurants meant there was a massive drop in demand for pork. The lower demand meant surplus pigs needed to be kept on farms despite there being no capacity, sparking concerns of an animal welfare disaster.
The Government eventually stepped in and bought 12,000 pig carcasses which it donated to foodbanks.
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor on Tuesday said COVID-19 had brought challengers for both food producers and vulnerable Kiwis.
"The global pandemic has disrupted food supply chains and food retailers, making it difficult for some New Zealanders to access affordable and healthy food and risking significant food waste."
He said initiatives like buying surplus pork were devised to tackle immediate, short-term problems, but the focus now was on finding "longer-term solutions to help address food security and food waste".
"These projects will take New Zealand's excellent produce, seafood and meat and make it more affordable to the communities that need it the most," he said.
About the projects being funded
Meat the Need - The Meat the Need programme distributed high quality meat to vulnerable New Zealand communities immediately after lockdown. Meat the Need will fast track another offering to complement their current provision of farmer-donated meat to charities. A new charitable supply chain proposal allows dairy farmers around the country to donate milk and negotiate with milk processors to receive the donations and process them into items for supply to foodbanks such as UHT/ long-life milk, cheese, or infant formula.
Yume – A 10-week feasibility study will determine the viability of bringing Yume Food to the New Zealand market. The Yume platform provides an online marketplace for food producers to list surplus product. Their buyers are typically larger catering companies, smaller food manufacturers and hospitality businesses. Any unsold surplus food is donated to charities.
Agrichain – The proposal explores a produce box-based supply channel, capable of providing a selection of produce to vulnerable households impacted by COVID-19. The solution is meant to reduce supply chain costs, and give vulnerable consumers options to purchase and have affordable, wholesome and safe produce delivered direct to their homes. Agrichain will work in partnership with Māori and Pasifika communities, United Fresh and Horticulture New Zealand.
eCatch – This online marketplace platform is focused on supporting the smaller in-shore fishing fleet. It will connect fishers directly with local consumers in an easy-to-use platform, while still allowing them to remain compliant with reporting requirements.
Totally Local - This online marketplace allows consumers to support local growers and producers, leading to sustainable communities who prosper. It uses a unique algorithm to connect consumers to local producers and a delivery service.