The value of food and wine to the Hawke's Bay region cannot be overstated.
Whether you consider this through a lens of raw exports, employment, the impact on our hospitality and tourism industries as well as the visitor economy, or the role it plays in our local economy as a whole, food and wine are critical to life in Hawke's Bay.
It is also the platform from which many of our tourism operations take off from.
Cycling the Hawke's Bay Trails, for instance, is enhanced by the joy of biking through vines from one vineyard to another; our restaurants and hospitality sectors serve exquisite cuisine that is made even fresher due to low food miles and high-quality goods sourced close to home; while our events industry uses this platform extremely well with concerts, events and festivals lifted above their peers in other regions thanks to exceptional venues and excellent food and wine as the accompaniment.
What's more, later this year we will celebrate the anniversary of perhaps one of the best examples of food and wine in the region – the Hawke's Bay Farmer's Market, which will notch up 20 years in operation.
A must-do on many visitors' itinerary, it exemplifies Hawke's Bay and why this region has become known as food and wine country.
Another is our F.A.W.C! programme. If Covid-19 had not forced the cancellation of the 2020 Winter F.A.W.C! festival, Hawke's Bay would be brimming with food and wine events right now.
When F.A.W.C! is celebrated, you can't help but notice the wide range of talented food and winemakers that call this region home. From busy urban restaurants and funky cafes to country estates, artisan producers and everything in between, it is the passion of these Hawke's Bay foodies and wine merchants that is inspiring.
They are among our region's best assets and one that we know New Zealander's and international visitors also appreciate. So much so, that in the 12 months to February 2020, visitors to the region spent a huge $116 million within the Hawke's Bay hospitality sector.
Tracked by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in their Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates, and technically called 'Food and Beverage Serving Services' (in an effort to separate it from supermarket food and beverage expenditure), this $116 million figure works out to be roughly 17% of all visitor spend within the region. It is second only to retail sales.
Food and wine are communal and binding in almost every culture across the world. We share our culture and heritage through food and wine as we gather our loved ones together.
It is no different here in Hawke's Bay and we plan to do this once again in November, with event applications rolling in nicely for Summer F.A.W.C!
It will be an overdue celebration of food, wine and Hawke's Bay itself, so keep your calendar free for the 10 days from November 6, 2020 . . . it will be worth it.