Massey’s food innovation legacy celebrated in ‘NZ Food Heroes’

Massey University’s commitment to the food sector as a long-standing leader of research and education excellence in food science, product development, and food health and safety, has inspired a twist on this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

Due to the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards this year have shifted from their usual programme, which would have opened for entries on May 1, to generating a community-focussed celebration of innovators across all sectors of the food and beverage industry.

Food has been a huge preoccupation for most in lockdown.  And in light of this new appreciation for the variety and quality of local food in a time of crisis, the New Zealand Food Awards –  powered by Massey University – want to celebrate the people who make it all happen.

New Zealand Food Awards is inviting people and organisations to get behind its ‘NZ Food Heroes’ campaign by nominating organisations or people – from the truckies delivering goods, to farmers, fruit pickers, food manufacturers and frontline checkout operators.

Researchers and lecturers in Massey University’s food-sector-related programmes and centres are also being called on to nominate people and organisations they deem to be heroes of the food industry during lockdown.

From innovative producers to the people who pick and pack, as well as those who transport and deliver – food heroes are being sought.

Massey Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the campaign, which launched this week, is an opportunity to recognise unsung heroes.

“Rather than skip a year, we want to take this opportunity to shine a light on the essential workers in the food and beverage sector and the stand-outs that have really made a difference,” she says.

“The work that has continued to be undertaken by our food industries on the frontline has been invaluable, and I think New Zealand has come to see their role in a new light in recent weeks.”

Massey University National Events and Sponsorship Manager Kelly Douglas is encouraging Kiwis across New Zealand to get involved and share who they would like to celebrate.

“The New Zealand Food Awards, Massey University and our partner network have been amazed by the efforts of our community to help Kiwis and businesses survive this challenging time and we believe they deserve recognition.

“Like us, we bet you have a few heroes you’d like to thank. So tell us who they are. We’ll be giving a bit of love back to the New Zealand food heroes you nominate.”

Nominations are open for people or organisations that have supported the New Zealand food and beverage supply chain in some way. This could be anything from transporting freight to fruit picking, manufacturing for the masses or your Mum for doing the grocery shop for elderly people in the neighbourhood. It might even be your company or your staff.

Among the  nominations so far:

  • The Pure Food Co – nominated for teaming up with Age Concern New Zealand to deliver donated care packages to elderly in need. The Pure Food Co won the New Zealand Food Awards’ James & Wells Business Innovation 2019 Award, as well as Massey University’s Supreme Award.
  • Kokako Organic Coffee – nominated for supporting their Outposts (clients) by donating 25 per cent of the sale of each bag of coffee to the purchaser’s café of choice.
  • Villa Maria – nominating their harvesting crews for working tirelessly to ensure their crop was harvested, going above and beyond by living though lockdown away from their homes in camper van villages they set up to protect their workers.

The New Zealand Food Awards organisers and partners are mindful that food deprivation is a major issue for many households struggling on limited incomes for access to healthy, plentiful food at any time.

“Our food heroes also include the people working to ensure food banks and food parcels are well-stocked and distributed amid lockdown restrictions and beyond so that families are not going without during this time,” Ms Douglas says.

“We’re also accepting nominations for those who pivoted to use their food and beverage powers to support the COVID-19 response. Did your local brewery shift from hops to hand sanitiser, for example?”

Nominations can be made online at by telling the organisers who they are and why they are your hero. People are encouraged to shout out to them on social media using #NZFoodHeroes and #NZFoodAwards so that the New Zealand Food Awards can help the rest of Aotearoa celebrate them too.

The New Zealand Food Awards has been celebrating New Zealand’s food manufacturers since 1987. Massey University’s involvement stems from its role at the forefront of food-related education and research in New Zealand and globally for decades.

From food science, food safety and product development to nutrition and dietetics, as well as farming and horticulture, Massey University’s name is synonymous with New Zealand’s innovative food sector. It is also home to the largest collection of pilot-scale food processing equipment in the Southern Hemisphere.

 Source:  Massey University

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog

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