Future in food, drink industries

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 05:00 31/05/2014

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The Canterbury region could do a great deal more manufacturing of food and beverages even if agricultural production remains the same, local research suggests.

About $4.5 billion of primary products and derived products are exported through Christchurch every year but food and beverage manufacturing contributes only $305m to local GDP.

"The gap between export values and food and beverage manufacturing activities in the city indicates significant potential to add value, irrespective of increased agricultural product," a Canterbury Development Corporation reports says.

Fostering food and beverage manufacturing offered a lot of potential for Christchurch to capture much more of the economic flows of primary products through the city even if there were no increases in agricultural production.

CDC has undertaken research into the relationship between Canterbury's farms and rural businesses and Christchurch to enhance understanding of how rural development, and the proposed big irrigation schemes in Canterbury will impact on the city's economy.

From a survey of those manufacturers CDC found Christchurch food and drink producers tended to source their dairy, sheep and beef products from Canterbury but grain and horticulture products more widely.

A third of the food and drinks makers were selling solely domestically and the rest exporting various amounts.

The research showed the earthquakes were curbing firms ability to expand and capture this extra value because of the scarcity of unskilled labour and suitable land.

Dairy and arable farmers spend more per hectare and a greater amount in main centres than livestock farmers. Shifts to more dairying in Canterbury should result in significant economic benefit to Christchurch.

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