Poutama Trust – NZ Cuisine Cluster

This story was showcased in our 2019/20 Annual Report

AGMARDT and NZTE funding enabled the Indigenous NZ Cuisine Cluster (INZCC) through Poutama to have a person in Hong Kong to assist with market development and entry into Hong Kong, China, Japan and Taiwan.  While the programme did not work out as originally intended, it did result in bringing businesses together to form successful collaborative entities.

The Hong Kong based person had well established relationships and networks throughout the region, was fluent in Mandarin and could also speak Japanese. Unfortunately, one of the funding contributors decided to withdraw their funding, as the programme was not moving as fast as they wanted. The programme was disbanded, and the INZCC market development person withdrawn from Hong Kong.

However, the information gathered during this time was enough to catalyse INZCC splitting into small sector-type collaborations in honey, wine and red meat. The honey cluster is an informal grouping of five Māori honey businesses that share resources such as hive sites and beekeeping equipment. This grouping also exports to Japan, UK and North America under their respective honey brands. The wine group has formed into TUKU Māori Winemakers Collective and exports to USA, Europe, UK and China. The red meat grouping undertook a further market visit to China though has not established itself as a collective.

One of the larger collaborations resulting from Poutama’s work was among Māori land entities to establish a geothermal powered milk processing plant in Kawerau, Eastern Bay of Plenty. To date, the 11 Māori investors and a Japanese investor have raised $45 million.

In May 2019 Waiū Dairy was formally opened Waiū produces organic and conventional butter and Milk Protein Concentrate 85. These products are exported mainly to the USA with some sales into Asia as well as domestically. Waiū Dairy is one of the larger collaborations that Poutama has pulled together.

Poutama has also formed a hemp collaboration, MIHI (Movers in Hemp Innovation), which is investigating the development of high value food and beverages from both hemp and CBD (cannabidiol).

“The great thing about these collaborations is you get a mix of businesses involved,” says CEO Richard Jones. “For MIHI we also have some of the honey businesses in the group, which has helped lead to research on the blending of CBD and Mānuka Honey.”

MIHI is also working with the Riddett Institute on new product development, investigating blending of hemp and dairy proteins for Ready to Drink and Ready to Mix beverages in powder, pellet and frozen forms. Work has also been done around producing hemp ice-cream.

MIHI has also formed good relationships with Canadian First Nations who are heavily involved in hemp growing, processing, wholesaling, and retailing. MIHI’s focus is on developing nutritional and healthy products that will resonate with consumers. MIHI has just completed a market and regulatory research programme into the US which gives good market insights.

COVID-19 has impacted these collaborations differently. The honey group still has a steady flow of export orders, while the wine group has seen loss of exports to the US due to COVID’s impact on the hospitality sector. However, Waiū Dairy has continued to export to the US throughout and has picked up further orders especially for butter.

 “If it hadn’t been for the support of AGMARDT then it is highly likely we would not have been able to base someone in Hong Kong. AGMARDT’s support also helped with our thinking around sector collaboration.  The key thing was that through the support of organisations like AGMARDT Poutama was able to bring different businesses together to collaborate, with cross-collaboration such as with MIHI and sector collaboration as has happened with TUKU and Waiū Dairy.”