Auckland’s new Food Innovation Centre is officially open for business.
Te Ipu Kai, the Food Bowl, is based in Manukau and comprises a pilot plant with research facilities, product developers, certification agencies, business development support, and universities.
Mayor Len Brown said it was a critical piece of infrastructure for Auckland and the first of its kind in New Zealand.
“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,” said Brown.
Located at Auckland Airport, the new centre will operate 24/7 and support food manufacturers in developing and testing new products for commercialisation, specifically for the fast moving consumer goods market.
Tony Nowell, chairman of New Zealand Food Innovation Auckland, operators of the centre, said it represented a capital asset of $18.1 million for the food sector and was projected to deliver benefits exceeding $26 million by June 2014.
“The innovation centre represents a serious boost to Auckland’s innovation economy and the wider community,” said 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 ... The Food Bowl is a significant step towards filling this market gap.”
Acting minister for economic development David Carter said the plant would address critical gaps in the product development pipeline.
"It’s a fantastic facility and will provide a welcome boost to our food economy."
Over time, the centre hopes to attract a cluster of associated food businesses.
Nowell said Manukau alone has a potential catchment of more than 1000 food companies who can use the facility.
The Food Bowl is part of a national food innovation network that is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Economic Development, industry, research and education providers and local economic development agencies.
In addition to the Auckland facility, the network will have three other regional hubs in the Waikato, Palmerston North and Canterbury.
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.