Restoring New Zealand’s Food System

Creating a successful restorative food system.

Restorating New Zealand's Food & Water SystemsHere at the Sustainable Business Network we’re trying to help find solutions to the challenges in the food system, from production, manufacturing, distribution, access and eating through to waste. We’re bringing together actors to collaborate from different sectors of the food system, who might not ordinarily work together. To read more about the projects we’re working on click here.

The shifts that are needed are big and pressing. Innovative and creative business and social solutions are needed to help restore Aotearoa New Zealand’s food system. No one organisation or company can do this alone but together we can combine to help create a food system that takes into account health, wellbeing, people and the environment in making a more conscious shift towards better food for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Find out about our Good Food Boost mentoring programme to help make your good food business a success.

The Food System

The food system is complex and affects everyone in society. Food is cultural, seasonal and the foundations for what we live upon. For many it is a way to earn a living, whether that is growing produce, farming animals, packing boxes or boning meat in a factory, or selling items in a supermarket or a café. The food system is also global, complex and interconnected across countries, economies, and cultures. For a lot of people it now means an expectation of access to goods all year round, despite being a sensitive, climatic, geographic and seasonal industry.

Food in Aotearoa New Zealand

More than 60% of our income is from the rural sector, yet nearly 90% of our population lives in urban areas. In the countryside farms have been amalgamated and while we still have a lot of sheep, dairy now dominates with more than 90% of our dairy and meat exported. The land use changes and intensification of these practices to increase efficiencies in the dairy system have led to flow on environmental impacts, affecting our soils, waterways, lakes, oceans and mahina kai.

While our food export scene is dominated by agricultural goods, there is still a diverse and emerging set of businesses that are growing with unique and innovative models for the food system than can be celebrated. Our domestic food scape is one that is comprised of multiple smaller systems that have top examples others can learn from.

Each region in Aotearoa is different: culturally, economically, geographically and climatically. Certain regions have a unique food image or characteristic, based on these factors. Urban centres differ; what works for Auckland is distinct from Dunedin or Wellington. The same for rural areas: what’s grown and produced in Taranaki differs to Central Otago and so on.

Speaking to and learning from actors across this system illustrates that there is room for change but also diversity and innovative approaches that each region or city-region food system can learn from.


What needs to change?

The shift needed for kai/food in Aotearoa is based around:

Production fair price to farmers and growers and access to markets, whilst enhancing environmental practices;

Manufacturing – helping smaller businesses get started and produce food;

Distribution enabling traceability across the food system and ensuring that food is distributed to those who need it;

Waste – reducing food sent as waste to landfill and making a more efficient system;

Access – helping to reduce the 20% of food insecure people in New Zealand by providing access to healthy and nutritious food;

Eating – education and awareness around healthy and nutritious food.

A number of pioneering food-related companies are interested in collaborating on a systemic shift for food. Using the The Big Shift framework, we will engage key stakeholders including primary industry, producers, processors, distributors, marketers and consumers. Now we need business partners who will work collaboratively with us to redesign New Zealand’s food system.

If you are interested in being involved with our work on Restoring New Zealand’s Food Systems, please get in touch with James Griffin


What is Restorative Food?

Restorative food provides nourishment. It is nutrient dense, tasty and appealing, enabling people and cultures to thrive.

Restorative food is produced in a way that maintains and enhances the health of environment, avoids genetic modification, eradicates toxicity to our soils and water ways, and gives back to our planet.

Restorative food takes into account the future generations, ensuring that the air, soil and water used to make the food will be left in a better state for those who come after us.

Restorative food enhances the condition of both consumers and growers, being fair to producers and generating a profit for the grower with no one exploited along the way, respecting our local growers and makers of food.

Restorative food forms part of a balanced diet and covers all the different groups of food in the right amounts: whole grains, fruit and vegetables, protein, dairy, fats/sugars.

When Restorative food is not eaten, it is responsibly disposed of (compost/zero waste) or utilised by those who need it most.

Restorative food is accessible and affordable for everyone.

Restorative food has a story and is traceable, so you know where it has come from and how far it has travelled.


Sustainable Business Network solutions

We are interested in creating and supporting strong business models for a range of options that assist in helping individuals, organisations and businesses to fix a broken food system.

Wiping out waste

Surplus produce from growers, wholesalers and markets is often wasted. Simultaneously, good food costs businesses to make. We’re working on solutions so that produce doesn’t get thrown out when it could be easily used by food makers or food rescue services.  If you would like to find out more, contact Emma Brosnahan:

Strengthening city region and regional food systems

Across Aotearoa, there are a lot of great people working hard at grass roots, community and local government levels for better city region and regional food systems. We’re working on solutions so that individuals, organisations and businesses can share information and have a stronger voice on local food issues. If you would like to find out more, contact Emma Brosnahan:

Boosting business

For many producers, growers and purveyors of quality healthy and nutritious food, access to markets and a fair price is a challenge. We’re working on solutions to help small businesses starting out with good food products get a boost and also to support established businesses to get a stronger market presence. If you would like to find out more, contact Emma Brosnahan: