Auckland’s new Food Innovation Centre based in Manukau – Te Ipu Kai, the Food Bowl – opened today and is set to become a key component of New Zealand’s developing network of food science and technology innovation resources.
The Food Bowl is an impressive 2000 square metre export certified purpose-built and multi-faceted pilot plant that will support food manufacturers to cost effectively develop and test new products for commercialisation, specifically for the fast moving consumer goods market.
The first of its kind in New Zealand, the new innovation centre is being hailed by the Mayor as a critical piece of infrastructure for Auckland, helping to address gaps in the food product development pipeline while accelerating the growth of high-value exports based on Kiwi innovation and research.
“The food and beverage sector is a significant contributor to Auckland’s economy with firms earning approximately $4.7 billion each year. The new food innovation centre will provide additional support to this thriving sector and is a solid platform for taking it to the next level,” says Len Brown.
“Investing in infrastructure to support Auckland’s economic growth is essential to achieve our vision of the world’s most liveable city. Enhancing food and beverage exports and creating more jobs is fundamental.”
Located at Auckland Airport, New Zealand’s primary export hub, the new centre features state-of-the-art flexible food and beverage manufacturing facilities, able to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Over time, the centre is intended to attract a cluster of associated food businesses.
Representing a capital asset of $18.1 million for the food sector, the centre is estimated to provide benefits that exceed $26 million by June 2014, according to Tony Nowell, Chairman of New Zealand Food Innovation Auckland, operators of the centre.
“The innovation centre represents a serious boost to Auckland’s innovation economy and the wider community,” says Mr Nowell.
“Within the food sector, there is a wide gap between those companies who want to commercialise products and the resources available to enable that commercialisation. This gap constrains the economic and development activity of those companies and of New Zealand in general. The Food Bowl is a significant step towards filling this market gap.”
Manukau alone has a potential catchment of over 1000 food companies who can use the facility, plus a wider base of potential users from other regions of New Zealand, all of whom can participate in the collaborative New Zealand Food Innovation Network.
The Food Bowl is a wholly owned subsidiary of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), an Auckland Council controlled organisation. ATEED will contribute $2.5 million over the next five years towards operational costs.
The Food Bowl is part of a national food innovation network that is a joint initiative involving the Ministry of Economic Development, industry, research and education providers and local economic development agencies. In addition to the Auckland facility, the national food innovation network will have three other regional hubs in the Waikato, Palmerston North and Canterbury.