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What's Wellington's place in the future of food?

17 Aug 2017

What is Wellington's future in food? Whether you're a food enthusiast or in the hospitality, supplier or producer industries, it's a valid question to ask given the food trends happening overseas.

To start this thinking, the ConversatioNZ Symposium event is running during Visa Wellington on a Plate and will be exploring New Zealand's food scene and what is next for how the country eats and consumes food.

It’s hard to escape the recent media messages on the future of food and the disruption facing the sector.

Just a sample of recent stories include Sunfed Meats hit the Aisle, Wellington food delivery service Food Ninja wins funding from a Malaysian software company and the whole future of food.

Given that creativity and innovation are key characteristics of Wellington, how are we going to play a role in this space? And what role could the urban area play in food production? Is our city ready for vertical farms?

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Vertical farming is a growing trend and viable option which is taking off overseas in countries like Singapore, United States of America, and Sweden. The farms are often built in large buildings in urban areas where crops are stacked and grown in several layers vertically. The technology enables the plants to grow without natural light and with less water consumption.

This is a timely discussion to have as the Visa Wellington on a Plate kicked off this week for the 9th year. This key event of the calendar serves to reinforce the region’s passion for food at the consumption end of the value chain. It is also a way of showcasing some of the finest products produced in our region.

Pushing the boundaries 365 days a year 

A festival environment like this is a great place to push the boundaries, and some events on the programme certainly do that, but the challenge is to make this sort of innovation part of normal business 365 days of the year.

And it cannot be left to the food service sector to lead the charge. Producers, retailers and we as the consumers must support and embrace innovation.

We already have some great examples of innovation and creativity in our Food and Beverage (F&B) sector. Just think of the innovation shown by:

And of course, our coffee companies who are taking coffee to the world through a variety of business models.

Wellington's challenge

These product categories are not unique to Wellington or New Zealand, so what is the magic ingredient that allows our businesses to successfully take on the world? And, once we discover that magic ingredient, how do we multiply it?

Perhaps a challenge for us to think about is how we can combine our world class capability in screen and digital technologies to add value to our food offering. And how can this connection add value at all levels of the food chain (if you will pardon the pun)?

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