Milestone for food tech at Massey
A food technologist was handing around samples of his manuka honey bars at a seminar to celebrate 50 years of food technology at Massey University.
Hayden Pohio, from Auckland, said he had been in the food development business for 20 years.
He said he when he came back to New Zealand from Britain in 2005, he worked with his parents in their manuka honey business.
"I started in a garage, a clean garage, and now I have my own factory in Hamilton."
He sold a nut and fruit bar under his own brand, Boosta, and was targeting the sports market with more products. Some were under development, including a blackcurrant after-play product.
"Sports confectionary - this is unique to New Zealand. There are a few in America. This is sugar- and gluten-free, with no preservatives or flavours, only natural and organic fruits and nuts and honey."
Pohio said his brand, Boosta, included the two O's joined, a sign for infinity, a bee dance and Maori links.
"It embraces all that is Aotearoa and is the essence of New Zealand."
He said his business was part of the indigenous food cluster, which had 34 companies. "We work together. It is fun to be part of, and helpful too. Maori are good at working together."
Pohio said there were small and large companies in the cluster.
"It gives us economies of scale [for power, for instance] and it is entrepreneurial."
He says all his products contained manuka honey.
"Exports have grown 30 per cent year on year in the past decade. It is the most expensive in the world and exports are worth $70 million a year. It's unique to New Zealand and has proven health benefits."
Pohio said New Zealand should build on its clean, green image with its major exports of dairy, meat and honey.
He said the technology to increase food exports value did not have to be invented from scratch.
"Crown Research Institutes can develop neutraceutical and functional food and the packaging companies can turn them into export dollars. They are there already and don't need to be invented."
Past graduates of the Bachelor of Food Technology at Massey University include Dick Hubbard of cereal fame in 1970, Brett Hewlett, chief executive of Comvita, a health and skincare products company, Phyll Patttie from the Wairarapa wine company Ata Rangi in 1976 and Rex Perreau, who works for Cadbury Schweppes UK, and developed the current version of the Crunchie Bar.