An online support network has been established by the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology to support food producers and manufacturers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The forum is set up on LinkedIn and will act as a forum for New Zealand food businesses to ask technical questions, look for technical support, and generally gather as a community.

“We know this is a challenging time across our industries, and want our colleagues, especially in smaller businesses, to know that there is help out there for them,” says Foodie Volunteer Army founder Jono Cox.

“We see the potential needs as being in supply chain, process changes to ensure staff and product safety, personnel absence, or any acute technical issue due to current events.”

The purpose of the group is to create a space where people can share their knowledge and connections. For more sensitive issues businesses will be able to contact the group admin ([email protected]) to be connected more directly to expertise, either voluntary or contract resource as may be required.

People will also be able to advertise their availability for contract work, and share any information they feel will be valuable to other members of the group.

So far, the group has more than 160 members and Mr Cox is keen to attract more.

“Whether you’re a producer, manufacturer, or a consultant; and whether you’re in a large organisation or a sole-trader, we welcome you to join the conversation to support New Zealand’s food supply chain.

“As we work through these challenging weeks as an industry, naturally the conversation will turn toward scenario planning for easing of the alert levels and restrictions. Readiness to move between alert levels will be crucial, and we’re here to help.”

Join the group by searching “Foodie Volunteer Army” on LinkedIn and hitting the request to join button.