12 Mar 2010

Food product development centres to be set up

9:07 am on 12 March 2010

A Manukau-based fruit and vegetable processor says a Government initiative to help smaller businesses develop new food products will boost its exports from New Zealand.

The Government will spend up to $21 million establishing the Food Innovation Network in collaboration with local government, industry and research and education providers.

The network will have four purpose-built hubs at Manukau, Waikato, Palmerston North and Canterbury, and some will be linked to universities and research institutes.

Each will have different capabilities, including processed foods, meat-based and dairy products, plant-based ingredient and food research and training.

Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee says the network will allow small and medium-sized companies to get access to facilities to develop, test and prove new products without having to invest in infrastructure and equipment.

He says these sorts of facilities already exist in most other OECD countries.

The managing director of Manukau-based GSF Australia New Zealand, John Wafer, says it means his company won't have to send products to Australia to have them tested on a commercial scale.

The first of the four regional hubs is expected to be operating later this year.