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Tuesday 28 June 2022

Food innovation funding ready to roll – MPI

11th May 2021 By Bridget O'Connell | | @foodtickernz

More food innovators and producers should be putting their hands up for backing from the government’s $120m food and fibre investment push, which aims to increase value from the country’s primary industries.

Food Nation secured funding from SFF Futures. Image: FN

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ director of investment programmes, Steve Penno, told the Ticker that after seeing the success of the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund backing projects such as Food Nation’s plant-based products, he was keen to for more applications from the food sector.

The SFF Futures fund had committed $147,000 across two years to help the Auckland-based food company develop its products, working in partnership with producers including Kiwi Quinoa, Hemp Farm, and the Pure NZ Buckwheat Co.

The new processed vegetable products, such as beetroot, kumara and Kiwi quinoa Amazeballs, were now available for sale in supermarkets after the government funding – agreed in February 2020 – sped up the pace of research and development.

Steve Penno

“We are really interested to get more applications from within the food sector,” Penno said.

“One thing that is really important to us is for us to add value to the primary industries, and that really means adding value through the value chains that use our produce. That’s why projects like [Food Nation] when they are producing consumer-ready products and using some of the produce from our primary sector are really interesting to us.

“So, food production is an area we would be interested in investing more into.”

The SFF Futures team has a budget of $40m annually, but that was boosted last year when a further $84m was unlocked last year to accelerate the Fit For a Better World primary industries roadmap in the face of Covid-19.

The funding is available for a wide range of projects spanning alternative proteins, apiculture and aquaculture as well as dairy and horticulture. The fund offers a single gateway to apply for investment, and provided grants of less than $100,000, right up to multi-million dollar, multi-year partnerships.

“Our view is that the people in industries and in our communities really know what needs to happen, what we are looking to do is help people do things bigger and faster,” Penno said.

“We are really wanting to make sure that the funding we have available is used to make things happen than wouldn’t otherwise happen, so in this case, Food Nation has been able to deepen and do more R&D and have that happen quickly.

“We don’t have specific areas that we think are most important, it is about where people have got an opportunity right in front of them and we can help them produce the outcomes faster and better.”



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