Left to right: Nikhil Sawant, Peter Thomson and Craig Armstrong

United by a shared love of food and successful entrepreneurship, Countdown, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) are once again strategic partners of the NZ Food Awards, recognising excellence in the FMCG industry.

A strategic partner for many years, MPI is a proud sponsor of the Food Safety Culture Award and the Primary Sector Products Award. Both areas are particularly dear to the Ministry. “When dealing with food, the safety of consumers is MPI’s number one priority. Having a strong food safety culture is critical for any business to consistently produce food that is safe and suitable for domestic and export consumers,” said Peter Thomson, director for Food, Plants and Environment, MPI.

Speaking of exports, NZTE believes the Awards could play a critical role.
“If the Food Awards are going to be positioned and executed as the leading celebration of innovation in food and beverage, then their value is immeasurable,” said Craig Armstrong, director of NZTE. The Government’s agency works with around 4,000 NZ companies, helping them enter and grow into 50 different markets. To achieve this result, Armstrong added, NZTE needs breakthrough products and ideas being able to ‘capture the hearts and minds of global consumers’, and that is what the Awards are going to acknowledge. As the FGC chief executive Katherine Rich put it, “The Awards play an important role in celebrating New Zealand’s food innovation, which is a driving force behind the economy.”

Much of this drive comes from creative, smaller producers, who are the heart of NZ economy. Well-aware of their potential, Countdown is encouraging them to come forward with their products.
“The awards provide small and medium suppliers with an entry platform to connect with us, and we are certainly looking forward to seeing what’s new out there,” said Nikhil Sawant, merchandise manager of Countdown. Now in its sixth year, Countdown’s partnership with the Food Awards is consistent with its recently strengthened focus on smaller food manufacturers.
“We look after our suppliers, no matter their size, and we are eager to recognise their talent, work with them and help them plan their business properly,” said Sawant. “Manufacturers are good at making amazing products, but we understand the market and all of its opportunities. We have the data, so we know what’s working. Our mission is to help them become commercially smart, turning a dream product into a commercial reality.”