New Collective To Elevate Bay Of Plenty’s Food Story

Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology students help launch Flavours of Plenty

Thursday, 24 Jun 2021

Passionate foodies, hospitality leaders and producers are uniting today as part of a new collective celebrating the Coastal Bay of Plenty’s evolving food story.

Launching in partnership with Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, Restaurant Association of New Zealand and Priority One, Flavours of Plenty is an initiative driven by Tāpoi Te Moananui ā Toi (Tourism Bay of Plenty) that aims to increase awareness of the region’s growing food scene among locals and manuhiri (visitors).

The collective will also provide the platform to identify new commercial opportunities in the food and hospitality space through the camaraderie that comes from people having a shared passion.

Acting Tumuaki (Chief Executive) Oscar Nathan says the collective will focus on showcasing the ‘people, places, produce and plates’ that reflect the region’s passion, innovation and creativity behind food in the Te Moananui ā Toi (Coastal Bay of Plenty).

“Our rich soils mean the region is already well-known for growing and nurturing some of the world’s healthiest and most nutritious food products, with Te Puke calling itself the kiwifruit capital of the world, and Katikati staking its claim to New Zealand’s avocado capital in 2018,” says Nathan.

“In recent years, our plentiful whenua and coastal landscape has attracted new arrivals and artisans, many of whom contribute to a growing and increasingly sophisticated hospitality scene. Flavours of Plenty will bring many of these talented people together who share our vision to lift the profile of our food story and create new opportunities for growth.”

The hospitality sector is already a significant contributor to Te Moananui ā Toi visitor economy. In the year ending April 2021, visitor spend (via electronic card transactions and excluding online purchases, pre-bookings and cash purchases) on food and beverage services was $118 million – up 19 per cent on the previous year. Despite the disruption to tourism caused by COVID-19, domestic visitor spend in this category increased 29 per cent over the year - more than making up for the loss of international visitor spend. January 2021 was the peak month for food and beverage services.

Horticultural provenance is a vital strand in the regional tourism strategy, Te Hā Tāpoi (The Love of Tourism). Following the strategy’s launch in March 2020, a horticultural provenance steering or ‘passion’ group was established to develop an authentic regional food story. Members include representatives from Zespri, NZ Avocado, Heilala Vanilla, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, NZ Food Writers Association, Restaurant Association, Cider Factorie and local chefs Kasey and Kārena Bird.

Group spokesperson Stacey Jones, Founder of pop-up restaurant Kitchen Takeover, says the Flavours of Plenty launch marked a milestone in their work to connect the ‘foodie ecosystem’ and stimulate pride in the region’s food and fresh flavours that are grown or produced locally.

“All our Flavours of Plenty participants are invested in our region’s food and hospitality scene and united in a desire to lay the foundations for events, tourism experiences, products and iconic food trails that will shape our region’s food culture and reputation.

“We have amazing stories to tell, with premium quality ingredients grown on our doorstep, and a region of talented artisans and chefs creating goods and dining experiences that, more than ever, have a big city vibe.”

As the Coastal Bay of Plenty has grown, welcomed new cultures and attracted experienced hospitality professionals, the region can proudly stand tall on the merits of its own achievements, says Jones.

“An exciting challenge for us now is sharing these stories with manuhiri and locals alike. With 60 per cent of manuhiri staying with friends and whānau in the Coastal Bay of Plenty, residents are influential hosts so educating locals is critical to our strategy to connect the community with operators across the Coastal Bay of Plenty’s diverse ‘foodscape’, from Waihī Beach to Whakatāne.”

The launch of Flavours of Plenty featured guest speakers, including award-winning New Zealand chef Ben Bayly, Cuisine magazine editor Kelli Brett, and Nourish magazine editor Vicki Ravlich-Horan.

In 2018 Tāpoi Te Moananui ā Toi (Tourism Bay of Plenty) became a Destination Management Organisation (DMO) to ensure the regenerative management of visitor-related development, coordinated with resident interests. Collaborating with stakeholders and industry groups is at the heart of this management approach and the Flavours of Plenty initiative demonstrates this in action, adds Nathan.

“By connecting people, we’re enabling discussion and the potential for new authentic experiences to emerge that will support economic development and a thriving community for residents and manuhiri to enjoy.”

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