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$21m Food Development Facilities Nationwide

( The government will spend up to $21 million to establish a network of open-access food development facilities across the country, Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee announced today.

“New Zealand’s export base is reliant on our food and beverage industries. The government wants to encourage them to create more value from their products to help raise our economic growth rate,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Small and medium sized companies need access to facilities that allow them to develop, test and prove new products but it is uneconomic for these companies to individually build such facilities and purchase all the required equipment.”

Mr Brownlee says this new initiative, called Food Innovation Network New Zealand, will be a collaboration between the government, industry, research and education providers and local government. It will have four regional hubs in Manukau, Waikato, Palmerston North and Canterbury and an overarching network organisation.

By providing the infrastructure that firms need to develop new food and beverage ingredients and consumer products, this investment by government will enable a high value food export industry to develop more rapidly, Mr Brownlee says.

“The food and beverage sector is responsible for over half of New Zealand’s export earnings. Directly or indirectly, the sector employs one in five of the working population. Given its importance, maintaining and improving the performance of this sector is essential to achieving the government’s economic growth agenda.”

As an example, New Zealand’s exports of processed foods have experienced strong compound annual growth of 18 per cent over the last decade and now account for $2.1 billion of exports. This has potential to at least double in the next few years with the assistance of initiatives such as the Food Innovation Network New Zealand, Mr Brownlee says.

“The absence of open-access facilities in New Zealand to enable product development and testing is a significant gap for our food and beverage industry and a constraint to growth. Such facilities exist in most OECD countries.”

Media Release 11 March 2010 from Hon Gerry Brownlee, Minister of Economic Development.
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