Foodies flock to Auckland

Fine-food fanatics have flocked to Auckland for a flavour frenzy.

Fine Food New Zealand, a huge international trade exhibition for the food and hospitality industries, is playing host to more than 250 exhibitors from New Zealand and abroad, and in excess of 6,500 buyers from around the world during its three-day stint this week at the city's ASB Showgrounds.

Dona White, CEO of North Port Events that runs Fine Food NZ, believes this year's show will exceed the standards set in 2012, which led to $13.6 million worth of sales for exhibitors.

The show will also be the setting for a trans-Tasman culinary showdown.

The bi-annual challenge will see the best youth (25 and under) and senior (over 25) chefs from New Zealand and Australia producing their very best entrée, main and dessert.

Youth teams put on their three-course exhibition yesterday and the seniors will follow suit today, with results announced tonight.

"This high level trans-Tasman battle only takes place every second year and is greatly respected in the culinary world - it's comparable to the Bledisloe Cup for chefs. The Kiwis have been the reigning champions in both the youth and senior events for the last two challenges, and this year they'll be looking to make it a trifecta," said NZ Chefs Association National President Anita Sarginson.

It's estimated that food and beverage exports, which are currently worth $26 billion per year to the country, are growing at a rate of 7 per cent per annum

A Chinese agent has registered to bring eight Chinese buyers to the show, all on the hunt for quality New Zealand meat suppliers, White said.

Meat exports are worth more than $8 billion per year - the second most significant food market to New Zealand behind dairy.

"There are huge opportunities for suppliers of quality Kiwi goods and innovative Kiwi companies, and we're confident that this will help deliver these companies to the global market that's so eager for them," said White.

Fine Food New Zealand kicked off yesterday and runs until Tuesday.