By Fiona Acheson, head of food, beverage, and consumer goods at NZTE


As we head into the festive season, it’s great to know that one of summer’s pleasures is the opportunity to try out new eateries and food experiences.  New Zealand, like many countries, has seen food service make a significant comeback this year. But the impact of the pandemic continues and has led to adaptations and the speeding up of some major trends in our key export markets.

In the United States:

  • Sustainability is growing in importance for both eateries and distributors but, as it’s loosely defined, it’s not well understood in a food service context. Concerns with animal welfare, growing conditions and environmental impact can all surface – the demand for sustainability continues to expand as consumers become more educated;
  • Packaging and other disposables have been a focus in fast-food eateries;
  • There is an increasing interest in proteins, such as ‘no antibiotics ever’ (NAE) poultry, wild-caught seafood, and grass-fed beef, as well as other perishables such as dairy;
  • Demand for fresh (meaning locally sourced and produced) has also been increasing.

In addition, private label (the distributor using its name with its brand) is playing a much larger role in food service (51% share) than in retail (22%).

In Australia:

  • Ongoing trends towards healthy eating are shifting consumer interest towards vegetarianism which, along with veganism, is expected to increase;
  • There is growing trend with what is termed ‘conversation culture’ – presentation of foods and concepts that revolve around sharing and talking about food experiences online;
  • And Australian consumers are constantly seeking new tastes and cuisines, with rising expectations for authenticity and flexibility.

Irrespective of country, the foodservice sector shares many things in common, including rising costs and labour shortages, supply chain bottlenecks and difficulty with demand forecasting.  This summer, let’s all make the most of the opportunity to support our local eateries, which play such an important role in showcasing the bounty of New Zealand’s food and beverage offerings. At the same time, we’ll be helping our companies build scale, to then take advantage of the many export opportunities.

Fiona leads NZTE’s Food and Beverage Customers team. She has held roles as NZTE regional director for Greater China, NZTE investment director on the government’s cross-agency investment taskforce, and has also been trade commissioner in Guangzhou and for Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. She has also supported leveraging activities around New Zealand – China free trade agreement and led leveraging programmes around the ASEAN–Australia–New Zealand and Malaysia–New Zealand FTAs.

The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Hot Source, NZ Food Technology, or the parent company, Hayley Media.