FOOD – The next step in shifting New Zealand’s approach

19 July 2016

SBN’s Food Project is bringing together good food businesses to work together to transform New Zealand’s food system. Will you join them?

For the past two years the Sustainable Business Network has been engaged in a project to restore the food system of New Zealand. Uniquely, this has looked at the system from the point of view of both organisations working on issues of food poverty and health, and also all businesses with an interest in food ethics and waste. The aim is to understand the nature of the issues these businesses face and come up with solutions to help them shift the food system. It is also to see where the various factors and players overlap and interact.

This will help position the SBN to provide practical support across the whole food system. It has also identified how the SBN can promote good food businesses in local markets and for export. 

Project lead Emily Dowding-Smith says: “The power of this approach is that it works with the whole system, rather than single aspects of it. These systems can be complicated. But we have seen how SBN members like Ooooby and Kaibosh are building success by working where several food issues meet. We want to open up more opportunities like this to our members. We can solve problems in the food systems by creating solutions that make great investments for the business and their communities.”

The latest business workshop on this was held at the New Zealand Food Innovation’s FoodBowl last week. Representatives came from many areas of the food sector. They included meat producers, vegetable and fruit growers, wine makers, coffee producers and also retailers. Together they grappled with issues like certification, provenance, promotion and brand recognition. They considered the influence of the big supermarkets on these issues. And they talked about public perceptions of the price of food and the costs involved. Organic producers also shared the challenges of maintaining interest in premium seasonal choices during off-season supply gaps.

All saw the value in working together to tackle these challenges and promote good food businesses. When asked, eight businesses immediately stepped forward to partner with SBN in the next step. This group will meet again in the next few weeks. Emily and the team will then propose a framework from which to turn the knowledge gained so far into practical tools to support this market.

Emily says: “There’s a clear and pressing need for recognition and reward for leading practice. This is one area where we will be focusing our efforts. We also think there is a space here to better promote New Zealand’s regional food stories and debunk myths on the true cost and true story of food. Having the SBN network behind this gives us the opportunity to have a real impact. The first public initiatives from the project should start to appear in the coming months. Look out for them. And if your business wants to benefit from playing a leading role in improving New Zealand’s food system, now is the time to get in touch with us.”

If you would like to know more about this project, contact