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NZ to become the Silicon Valley of food as young Kiwi food tech leaders rally together

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A group of emerging FoodTech leaders in New Zealand have joined forces to launch Future Food Aotearoa (FFA) this month.

Future Food Aotearoa’s purpose is to help support and grow high-impact New Zealand FoodTech companies to feed the next generation sustainably, across Asia and the Pacific Rim.

Ten young leaders from across the food sector currently make up the collective and represent more than $50million in annual revenue. The group plans to grow to represent more than $500million of new FoodTech revenue for New Zealand by 2025.

Future Food Aotearoa’s founding Chairperson is Alex Worker, previously of Fonterra China, Starbucks and consulting with Impossible Foods.

Worker says like any good garden, Aotearoa’s food system requires thought, care and attention.

"We’ve formed Future Food Aotearoa, to help nurture and sustain the food industry here. With the right knowledge, experience and dedication, New Zealand could become to food, what Silicon Valley is to software. We could become the Eco Valley of the world," he says.

Katy Bluett leads FFA in the role of Establishment Director and previously led the food and beverage sector at Callaghan Innovation.

Bluett says she is excited to launch FFA and spend the next year building out its why, what and how to help support the growth of next generation food leaders.

"This is an industry-led initiative focused on action to build momentum. We will get behind the excellent food frameworks in place designed by our Government, including initiatives in food and fibre and high-value nutrition. We’ll also leverage the challenger mindsets of Te Hono to enable our future leaders. It’s a pivotal time for Aotearoa and the future of food," she says.

Worker says there is significant disruption ahead for New Zealand’s food system with many new, sustainable opportunities.

"There is a hole left in Queenstown’s economy today due to Covid-19 and dropped tourism, yet Queenstown is still a gateway to the world’s purest food sourcing region, which we can help support. New FoodTech companies such as those based on locally sourced wool-derived proteins, thyme and herbal remedies, blackfooted pāua and seaweed compounds, and cherry-waste plant based desserts can take the area’s story direct to tourists’ doorsteps, worldwide. FFA is a movement to lead these opportunities on behalf of our generation," says Worker.

FFA’s founding steering committee comprises entrepreneurs and founders from a variety of growing food companies, including Nick Hammond of Spring Sheep; Sam Bridgewater of Pure Food Co; Florence Van Dyke of Chia Sisters; Angus Brown of Ārepa; Te Puoho Katene of Te PÅ«tea Whakatupu Trust; Sophie Gilmour of Delicious Business; Morgan Maw of Zuru Edge; and Ben Lenart of Almighty.

Bluett says FFA is a movement by founders for founders; industry led and Government enabled.

"An early focus is to create a pathway for students, Māori and graduates from New Zealand’s regions to intern and work across FFA member companies," she says.

Key government agencies and primary sector leaders have shown interest and commitment, including a primary partnership with thought-leading primary sector platform, Te Hono, and support from Iwi, NZTE and MPI agencies.

FFA plans to announce a wider Cohort Tahi nomination process later this year to invite a new wave of emerging food leaders to join the movement.

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