Here are some great names to wrap your choppers around - Caveman Candy's jerky, Black Garlic Man's fermented garlic, Fire Dragon Chillies, Grinning Gecko cheese, Wild West Worcester Sauce, K4 Kombucha, Echo Valley olives ....

And there are many more fierce and fanciful monikers on the list they came from.

The range of Northland's foods and beverages keeps getting wider and more creative. The region still earns its big export dollars from dairy, forestry, kumara, kiwifruit and avocados, but niche homegrown products and businesses are popping up everywhere, providing family incomes, using natural and introduced resources and making the most of a climate and spread of terrain and soils unequalled in New Zealand.

Honey, organic beef, raw milk, limoncello, craft beer, distilled beverages, fresh and processed seafood - these are the kinds of products savoured by locals, foodies, food-mile counters, the hospitality industry and many thousands of visitors to Northland.

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It's an industry that economic development agency Northland Inc's growth advisor David Templeton is keen to see become a bigger part of the region's identity.

Northland Inc growth adviser David Templeton.
Northland Inc growth adviser David Templeton.

In collaboration with Eat NZ, a collective linking some of New Zealand's best chefs, producers, food media, event organisers and tourism operators, the regional economic growth agency has planned 2019 Savour Northland, an inaugural showcasing event for producers. It will be held at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell in April on 16 and 17.

"We hope to bring together the Northland food and beverage ecosystem to develop the food and beverage story. This is an opportunity for everyone from producers to end users and the hospitality industry to develop a plan for putting Northland on the map as a food and wine destination, while boosting the national and global markets for what is produced in this region,'' Templeton said.

"Traditionally companies have developed their own individual stories as part of their marketing, but there is an opportunity for a Northland-wide story with room for cohesion.''

Templeton said increasing the sector's profile would enhance the region as a destination for another stream of visitors as well as those coming for scenic, action, history and cultural tourism.

''We have a big opportunity to promote Northland as a premium food and wine destination.''

A stronger regional identity would also be a good foundation for product growth and distribution or export.

"When producers are looking at marketing overseas, or the rest of country, the brand as a collective will be powerful.''

Templeton said Northland is a burgeoning wine region and also has breweries, distilleries, kombucha and teas, and a coffee roasting scene.

Food producers include everything from fruit and vegetables to seafood and meat, value-added treats such as avocado icecream, Caveman Candy jerky and fermented black garlic from Black Garlic Man.

Templeton has worked with 100 or more small to mid-sized food and beverage based businesses over six years through the Regional Business Partners Network.

While Northland has had a presence at many food and wine festivals both at home and in larger centres, 2019 Savour Northland is the first local invitation to outside industry heads and consumers.

The weekend will kick off at 5.30pm on April 16 with the Gala Dinner where Cuisine NZ Chef of the Year, Giulio Strula will serve up a menu from locally sourced food and beverages. Day two will feature a workshop and discussion for producers and industry players, with success stories from across the region.

One of those stories will be about the launch of kiteAO, a new web platform developed to help connect skills and services in Northland.

To register contact David Templeton at david.templeton@northlandnz.com.

Northland businesses come in all shapes and sizes. If you have a business story to share please contact Lindy Laird, Ph (09) 470 2801, or email lindy.laird@northernadvocate.co.nz