Game changer: Hawke’s Bay’s Foodeast will give the region’s food and beverage industry access to the expertise it needs to bring new innovative products to market. – artist’s impression; subject to final design

A site for the region’s Food Innovation Hub, newly named Foodeast, has been confirmed. A conditional sale and purchase agreement for land at the Tomoana Food Hub in Elwood Rd, Hastings, was signed last week.

The Government announced in September 2019 that it would commit $12 million from its Provincial Growth Fund towards the project. The centre of food innovation, estimated to cost $18m, will enable new food, beverage and agri-tech products to be commercialised and readied for market. It is forecast to add $100m to the regional GDP over 15 years and bring 500 new full-time  jobs to Hawke’s Bay.

The project still has milestones to achieve before the final decision to proceed is made in November 2020, including raising regional investment Of $6m.

Industry players are already showing strong interest in the facility with expressions of interest being received from potential tenants.

“They recognise the opportunities this will open up,” said establishment board chairman Tony Gray. “Capital raising and seeking expressions of interests for tenants is underway. The interest in this strategically important facility is really growing.”

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the news that Foodeast could be up and running by the beginning of 2022 was very exciting. She thanked the Provincial Growth Fund for their support for the project; particularly the $12m of funding it had made available.

“This will be a real game changer for Hawke’s Bay. Food and beverage products are a mainstay of our

regional income, contributing 70% of regional gross domestic product  every year. This facility will enable our industries to access the very best minds across the region and New Zealand to develop new products and new ways of doing things to build on that success.”

The spaces will be very flexible with some parts permanently tenanted and others available for booking by industry and educational organisations for collaboration, demonstrations, events, and education and training.

A small dedicated Foodeast team will be focused on matching entities with product ideas with specialists able to help them develop, test and commercialise their products.

Hawke’s Bay’s Foodeast will be part of the Food Innovation Network New Zealand network, made up of facilities supporting the food and beverage industry. There are hubs in five regions of New Zealand, including at Massey University in Palmerston North (foodpilot) in Auckland (foodbowl), and at in Southland (foodsouth).

Having a food innovation hub in Hawke’s Bay will help users access in-depth knowledge and experience across all of the hubs.

Foodeast will be owned and managed by an entity made up regional investors including local government and private sector representatives.

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