Hawke’s Bay’s distance from its export customers as well as its high cost of labour and land should not be treated as a barrier to becoming a world leader in food production.
Massey University’s Professor of Post Harvest Technology Julian Heyes said there were ways around those obstacles and one of them was the co-location of horticultural processing businesses, supporting a plan for a new food processing and distribution hub in Hastings.
Mr Heyes was one of six experts Elwood Road Holdings called to support its plan-change hearing at the Hastings District Council, which will resume tomorrow.
The company wanted the status of its 16ha site at Tomoana changed from plains to industrial, to allow it to build the food hub next to Heinz-Wattie’s.
Mr Heyes, who fronted the hearings committee last week, said the Bay’s food producers couldn’t compete on price but could move ahead by focusing on the quality of food, post-harvest activity and capitalising on the area’s clean, green environmental image.
“We are not going to get ahead by increasing our yield or by increasing the area [for growing crops]. What we can achieve is developing IP [intellectual property] rich products, high-value products that consumers want to buy.