Foodie phenomena – the end or just the beginning?

First published in New Zealand Herald  25 November 2015 

An article in last week’s New Zealand Herald referred to an agri-business think tank organised by KPMG and one suggestion to Kiwi farmers to become foodies.

I haven’t yet read the Agribusiness Agenda 2015 that brings the words of these emerging leaders together, but if the comments in the article are anything to go by it’s going to be a great read.

The foodie phenomenon is far from over. Not in the celebrity chef sense, but in our genuine interest in the provenance of our food.

Both New Zealand and Australia continue to be in a great position to export our food to the rest of the world and the advice for New Zealand farmers to deliver to higher consumer expectations, with greater transparency and business acumen, is sound advice.

In Australia right now, it’s the food festival season.

The Age Good Food month in Melbourne, Margaret River Gourmet Escape in Western Australia and the Taste Festivals, a successful franchise established in London in 2004 and now in over 17 countries, including New Zealand.

It’s extraordinary just how many people each of these festivals attracts. Food is simply huge.

Taste of Melbourne had close to 24,000 attendees and I read that the Auckland counterpart more than 20,000.

My involvement in this year’s Taste of Melbourne was professional, working with the Audi brand that was one of the festival sponsors, with a strong connection to food and many of the top Australian chefs as brand ambassadors.

But it was also my first time there as a punter, and the kids and I spent a small fortune sampling the many foods on offer and just soaking up the atmosphere.

With a $30 general admission price, tasting plates from many of Melbourne’s well-known restaurants, and food & wine brands serving from around $10 a pop (all niftily paid for with a preloaded, forget-how-much-you-spend points card) – the Taste festival has certainly positioned itself at the premium end of town.

That’s not to say it wasn’t good. It was a lot of fun. The sun was out, Melbournians came out in droves. We ate, drank and spent a lot of money.

There’s usually a New Zealand brand or two, on hand at these types of festivals and events. And I had a good chat to the team from Pic’s Peanut Butter whose progress I’ve followed over the last few years.

It’s always good to see a Kiwi brand represented in Australia and this Taste crowd is an interesting one. Certainly not afraid to spend some serious cash, so the opportunity to reach them is a good one for a boutique food or drink brand.

Australian trade shows and festivals can be hit and miss for New Zealand exporters.

I’ll certainly be interviewing Pic’s team in the next few months to find out whether Taste was worth their while and to learn more about their business development in Australia, which I sense is going to be huge.

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