Kiwis are seeking healthier food options while producers are balancing the right amount to survive after 12 months of battling Covid-19, food industry leaders say.
Foodstuffs South Island chief executive Steve Anderson said helping New Zealanders build up their immunity is a key trend coming out of the company's Fresh and Grocery Expo at Claudelands Event Centre today.
The expo, which continues tomorrow, is Foodstuffs' largest in its 15 year history, with more than 300 exhibitors involving 5000 people.
While it's a whirlwind 48 hours, it's bringing economic benefits to the city of around $5.3 million according to Hamilton City Council's general manager of events Sean Murray, as guests splurge on everything from accommodation to eating and shopping.
The expo is invite-only - for those in the trade; Anderson says it's a chance for suppliers to meet and showcase new products.
There's everything from cereal to cheese to beer to chocolate.
Producers were aware families had been doing it tough, with people having lost their jobs or their overtime, so there was now "a lot of focus around, how do you feed those families with dignity?"
He said those most affected were dependent on the geography; those in Queenstown weren't doing as well as others based in Christchurch.
"And there's where some of the focus needs to be for suppliers, and ourselves, in helping producing affordable food."
Having children has seen Blue Frog cereal founder Scotty Baragwanath hang up his corporate tie for the apron.
His range of breakfast foods were born out of curiosity while trying to find some good, yet nutritious, options for his kids.
What started as a taste test on his own kids, then their friends, and his own friends, has since boomed into an operation based out of East Tamaki producing thousands of packets a week.
Blackcurrants appeared to be a key product and likened by many as the new "superfood" of 2021.
Barker's noticed a huge spike in the sale of their immunity products during and after Covid, staffer Kathryn Love said.
There were 1200 Canterbury-grown blackcurrants in each bottle of concentrated juice.
Noticing a gap in the market for quality ready-made sauces, the Geraldine-based company had launched its own range, including everything from a beef goulash to the more spicy saagwala or green curry.
Love said they were aware of the cautionary attitude of some shoppers who usually steered away from ready-made sauces, but she assured Kiwis they were made from homegrown, natural ingredients.
Hawke's Bay man, Angus Brown, has created New Zealand's only scientifically proven drink for brain function, Arepa.
He commissioned Human Psychopharmacology Professor Andrew Scholey from Monash University in Melbourne to help develop the blackcurrant drink after giving up a role at Frucor.
"I lost a friend to mental health and grandparents to brain-related illness and thought why can't I make something that's good for mental wellness and mental performance that doesn't contain caffeine so I went on this journey and here I am seven years later."
Professor Scholey's research uncovered two of the company's key ingredients that were from New Zealand; a unique variety of pine bark that can be used as a natural alternative to Ritalin for ADD children and used in high doses for concussion and stroke recovery.
"And the other is a unique variety of blackcurrant ... there's compounds that we've found to work just as efficaciously as some of the leading anti-depression and anti-Parkinsons medications."
The company had this year been given a $1.5m grant to do a neuroprotection study, as well as other studies at universities in Auckland and Canterbury.
His products were now being supplied to everyone from the All Blacks - to help with fatigue - and even Kiwi film producer Taika Waititi who is shipping pallets over to Fox Studios in Melbourne and Sydney for crew involved in the making of the latest Marvel movie.
His goal was to develop a billion-dollar company distributing his products worldwide.
Meanwhile, Foodstuffs North Island chief executive Chris Quin said any leftover food from the expo would be donated to Hamilton's food rescue service Kaivolution.