Whether you're dining in a restaurant or a hospital, chances are much of the food on your plate got there thanks to distribution company Bidfood.

"Bidfood is the 34th largest company in New Zealand," sales manager Mark Dunwell said.

"We employ over 2000 people nationwide.

"We have distribution centres all over New Zealand and we come to all the different regions because we've got such a vast array of customers - from age care to cafes to rest homes."

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Every year Bidfood takes its large scale operation to small town New Zealand, holding trade shows in 15 centres around the country. Last week it was Palmerston North's turn, with Barber Hall full with the sights and sounds of food producers from around New Zealand.

"When you're going in through the Interislander into Picton, you can see our mussel farms as you go along," said Lizzie Redwood of Omega Seafood. "All those buoys that you see that have mussel lines dropped down - that's where we harvest them from."

"We take essentially what is a waste product, bones," Foundation Stocks representative Kelly Chambers said. "We skim the tallow which is a natural byproduct of making stock, then we take it to run the boiler in our factory."

Bidfood is a global food service giant operating on five continents. Here in New Zealand they are the largest specialist food distributor, and trade shows like these are a promotional tool for the company.

It's also a vital opportunity for hospitality business owners in the regions to see what's happening on a national and international scale.

"I own a cafe in Feilding," Crystal Curtis said. "As a new business owner it allows us to explore some products we haven't been exposed to, have a look at some things that might look good on paper and try them."

But the hot topics in the food industry are not what you may expect... pre-packaged food and waste.

"A lot of people are going now towards the ready-made foods which is your pre-prepped veggies," Dunwell said. "Which means there's a lot less labour costs in the kitchen and a lot less waste."

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