Taranaki has long been linked to dairy production, but there’s a lot more happening in the region that isn’t connected to the price of milk, says the regional development agency Venture Taranaki. “There’s no question that global commodity prices, namely the decline in milk powder, are having an effect on Taranaki’s regional economy,” says Michelle Jordan, general manager of business, partnerships and skills at Venture Taranaki. “This has triggered a renewed interest in a range of emerging primary industries, a concerted search for new opportunities, and a strong focus on adding value through innovation. The net result is that Taranaki is maintaining more momentum than a traditional dairying province.” But it would be remiss to write about Taranaki and not start at the region’s core industry – dairying. “Within dairying, the last decade has seen significant expansion in our cheese production capabilities and capacities, bolstering the mainstay milk and milk powder production, to get more value-add from our primary producers,” Jordan says. The results of this investment are nicely demonstrated through one factory alone – the output of Fonterra’s Collingwood 68 SEPTEMBER 2016 plant in Eltham can be tasted in the cheese in McDonald’s burgers throughout Australasia, while the same factory produces different products for customers ranging from Burger King and Subway, to Taco Bell, Pizza Hutt and KFC. Add to this the continued growth of Fonterra’s expansive Whareroa milk production facility - on the outskirts of Hawera - and you have a picture of an industry that is firmly focused on the long-game. A little further around picture-perfect Mount Taranaki is Yarrows, a long-standing Manaia bakery which has been at the forefront of the bread sector since 1923, building a surprising foothold in the global bread market from its South Taranaki base. “Yarrows has also adopted innovation as a driver of its business model, and has expanded its diverse product range to rack up a growing number of wins in the export space,” Jordan says. An example of this commitment to innovation is Yarrows’ Salba ‘superbread’, which utilises an ancient Aztec grain to pack a startling range of nutrients into each loaf, with tests revealing the bread to be the most nutritious on the market. The region is also developing its niche Nick and Michael Carey of Green Meadows Beef (credit: Mark Harris) producers as well. Taranaki is very strongly represented in the coffee sector, with quite possibly the most roasters per capita in the country. The largest is Ozone Coffee Roasters, whose growing wholesale customer base is cementing its position as one of the nation’s top regional roasters, while the range of eateries supplied by the brand has had a similar impact on New Plymouth’s destination attractiveness. Ozone has even set up shop in the UK, with a café/roaster in London’s emerging Shoreditch. Inca Fe is another local organic roaster who has recently expanded, opening a space in Auckland that serves as both brew bar and training hub. Also doing interesting things is the up and coming Escape Coffee Roasters. South Taranaki’s Green Meadows Beef, a relatively recent arrival in the gourmet market, has moved beyond its initial delivery model to offer a point of sale, and is continuing to build supply links into many of the nation’s top eateries, offering home-grown beef alongside a growing range of value-added products such as pies and sausages. Van Dyck’s Pancakes is a niche producer in Taranaki which is forging a solid reputation in offshore markets. Compa- REGIONAL ROUNDUP FOOD AND BEVERAGE HAPPENING IN…TARANAKI WHAT’S Looking to the future, Venture Taranaki released a major report into opportunities for the region’s horticulture sector in 2014, which identified strong potential for Manuka honey, particularly alongside the cornerstone dairying sector.
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