New Zealand AgriFood Week Three-Year Strategy

CEDA and New Zealand AgriFood Week

The Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) has been delivering New Zealand AgriFood Week (NZAFW) since 2016. The week-long series of events, forums, and thought-provoking discussions sits at the intersection of agriculture, science, and technology. The events are held in and around Palmerston North city and the Manawatū region – New Zealand’s epicentre of agrifood innovation.

Locally, the Week has been well-known as a regional initiative to promote innovation and the future of agrifood. Looking ahead, it is time to expand the event’s purpose and reach.

Why have we developed a three-year strategy for New Zealand AgriFood Week?

In 2019, we asked ourselves how we could better position and evolve NZAFW – the flagship event for our large and diverse agrifood and agritech industry – to grow our strength as an agrifood hub. We conducted interviews, explorations, analysis, and a competitive audit to draw out a foundational three-year strategy and roadmap. 

What have we learnt?

As a community of stakeholders, we need to keep learning and developing, particularly through gathering insights from successful event organisers in other industries, as well as keeping abreast of the trends and themes within the agrifood sector. But two key themes emerged from our research that I encourage our community to discuss.

First, and most importantly, our region is exceptionally well placed to lead innovative responses to the global issue of sustainable food supply.

Manawatū has the ingredients for success as a top-three global agrifood hub, which will reposition New Zealand from being an agricultural producer of commodity items to one of a food nation, delivering innovative, value-added products, technology, and IP to the world. This is because Manawatū is:

  • home to some of the brightest minds in agrifood and agritech
  • home to FoodHQ, partner to Foodvalley Netherlands, the world’s #1 agrifood hub
  • home to 3900 people employed in science and research, including an unmatched concentration of more than 1600 experts (collegially clustered as FoodHQ)
  • home to significant infrastructure and industry (including giants Synlait and Fonterra), and has strong relationships with NZTE, Callaghan Innovation, MBIE, and other key national agencies
  • home to the nation’s only agrifood focused incubators and accelerators (The Factory, Sprout, and the Rural Innovation Lab)
  • geographically ideal, being in the centre of New Zealand with terrain that allows diverse agricultural and horticultural activity, as well as the experimentation and trials needed for technological advances
  • the nation’s first region to develop and implement an agritech strategy
  • the nation’s leading region for agrifood education and research, through Massey University (New Zealand’s only university with a focus on agriculture and food sciences) three Crown Research Institutes (Landcare Research, Plant & Food Research and Ag Research), and other R&D organisations
Second, our region has a unique opportunity to positively shift how the average New Zealander views the primary sector.

Over the past decade, New Zealanders have become critical of our once-lauded primary sector. This view has evolved from a growing awareness of climate change, land and water conservation, resource depletion, and animal welfare issues, combined with a growing disconnection between rural and urban New Zealand. 

However, the seeds for a positive shift in this rhetoric have already been sown – through future-focussed agribusiness innovators, agri-preneurs, and other food and farming innovation success stories. NZAFW is well-placed to provide strategic momentum to this shift by bringing producers, politicians, business owners, scientists, industry and future talent, and consumers together to showcase and celebrate the innovations and advancements made within the industry, all with a focus on the future. 

We are uniquely well-placed to remind all New Zealanders that the spirit of kaitiakitanga – of guardianship of the sky, the sea, and the land – is inherent in every farmer’s and producers desire to protect our land and water for future generations. To attract the next generation of farmers, scientists, and innovators, we must actively fuel the positive momentum stemming from our many success stories of agrifood innovation.  

A clearer purpose for New Zealand AgriFood Week: Focusing on tomorrow’s challenges and celebrating today’s successes

Together, these two opportunities have clarified the purpose of New Zealand AgriFood Week. In summary:
  • NZAFW brings together agrifood change-makers, including farmers and growers, researchers, innovators, food industry experts and decision makers, policy makers, media, and consumers to facilitate future-focused conversations throughout the entire food value chain. The purpose of these conversations is to challenge, cross-pollinate, foster ideas, and develop clear pathways to actionable outcomes that contribute to solving the world’s biggest food challenges.
  • NZAFW is also a celebration and showcase of excellence in agrifood innovation, inspiring the next generation of farmers, scientists, and innovators. It provides the nation and the world with a window to fresh, positive views and discussion on the future of food.

To realise these twin opportunities, CEDA is evolving NZAFW to be ‘centre stage’ – nationally and globally. We are also positioning the event at the intersection of agriculture, science, food, and technology to strategically differentiate NZAFW from competing or related events.

Get in touch:

New Zealand AgriFood Week is powered by the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA). If you’d like to get in touch with us to ask questions or see how you can be involved, then contact the team today.

[email protected]
06 350 1830

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