Hemp and goats could hold the key to the future success of Hawke's Bay's primary and food sectors, after Wednesday's Future Foods conference resulted in two new groups being set up to investigate opportunities.

More than 170 delegates from across the New Zealand food industry discussed the global future of food and the opportunities for New Zealand and Hawke's Bay food producers at
the conference - the organisation of which was a key action in the Matariki Hawke's Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy (HBREDS) work led by Business Hawke's Bay.

As a result goat special interest group (meat/fibre/milk) researching customer insight, world best-practice and developing a regional business case for Hawke's Bay would be set up, Business Hawke's Bay chief executive Carolyn Neville said.

In addition, a hemp special interest group would also be formed to explore customer oriented opportunities in the fibre, medicine and food categories.

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Neville said the conference heard from international experts on a range of issues, such as global food trends, future technologies, alternative protein and how to take produce "from land to brand".

"It's important that our food producers hear first-hand about the trends and issues affecting the future of food.

"By holding the conference, we're building awareness, bringing opportunities to the fore, starting conversations and building connections across the food industry.

"One thing that came through loud and clear from our speakers was that we must drive greater value for New Zealand produce. That involves developing a deeper understanding of what global consumers want, connecting with them and making products they are prepared to pay for.

"Some of the consumer-driven trends we're seeing such as grass-fed, organic, ethical, traceable and sustainable, New Zealand is already doing, but we're not fully realising its value.

Mateawa Keelan, Hikurangi Enterprises, discusses medical marijuana and hemp trials. Photo / Duncan Brown.
Mateawa Keelan, Hikurangi Enterprises, discusses medical marijuana and hemp trials. Photo / Duncan Brown.

Futurist Melissa Clark- Reynolds reminded the audience that there were no disruptive technologies, only disruptive business models.

"New Zealand producers need to understand that the business models under which people buy and consume food today will not be the same business models that they'll use in the future," Clark-Reynolds said.

"The commodity business model that New Zealand uses will soon be broken. We need to move New Zealand from volume to value. In the future the non-physical attributes of food, the way that customers think about food and the story of that food, will be where the real value of the food industry will come from.

Julia Jones, KPMG, discusses the big picture of future trends. Photo / Duncan Brown.
Julia Jones, KPMG, discusses the big picture of future trends. Photo / Duncan Brown.

Neville said that the quality of questions from conference delegates was excellent.

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"It will allow us to delve deeper as we explore the opportunities. The conference has shown that there is real interest in developing value-added opportunities and Business Hawke's Bay will be working hard to build on the momentum of the conference and develop capabilities and support networks to help us to do that."

Neville said workshops were also planned to delve deeper into specific areas such as consumer demands and expectations of bio-plastics and intelligent packaging.

* So, we asked, if Hawke's Bay folk are being encouraged to eat more goat - what's the best wine match?

Clearview Estate Winery co-owner Tim Turvey reckons syrah is the perfect pairing.

"Syrah is the pinot noir of Hawke's Bay," Turvey said. "It's nice and soft but it's also bitey and has some good spice, which goat does, so I reckon it would fit nicely with any lamb or goat dish."