Hopes for food hub tenants soon

Hawke’s Bay will be served up a food innovation hub in early 2024, with a tenant prospectus now released and hopes for a first tenant to be in by June. Foodeast-Haumako, was the brainchild of Hastings District Council before setting out to find funding partners in 2019 for the $18 million project.

The Government’s Provincial Growth Fund $12m in 2019, with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment arm – HBRIC stepping up with $4m with Progressive Meats investing $1m. Construction handover is expected to be by end of March. It is hoped the hub will create the next Watties or Apple Press food entrepreneurs.

Sir James Wattie, was a pioneer within the canned food industry, creating a Hastings business that has gone on to be a global empire and today part of Heinz Group. When Foodeast was launched it was estimated that it would add $100 million to the region’s GDP over 15 years and bring 500 new full-time jobs to Hawke’s Bay. The facility comprises two main buildings – Building A, an architecturally designed with net lettable floor area of 1,105m² to cater for up to five separate office tenancies.

The building has a spacious common area and a generous shared kitchen facility. Foodeast-Haumako has made a commitment to equipping the facility with a demonstration kitchen, which is currently being scoped to ensure that it will meet market demands. This is likely to be added after the official completion date and will complement the conference room, large and small meeting rooms and a central breakout space.

Trimming some costs in other areas of the build and some lateral thinking will be required, as the demonstration kitchen as originally envisaged was trimmed from the budget when Covid-related cost escalation required a rethink.

Foodeast-Haumako chair Dr Nicky Solomon says that the board is absolutely committed to ensuring that the building offers the appropriate facilities and soft-services to support the innovation requirements of the food industry.

“We need to make sure there is a place in the building a where food can be made but we need to make a call on what does that look like, and we need to ensure that what we provide meets the needs of our potential clients, and is as versatile as it can possibly be.”

Exclusive property agents Colliers Hawke’s Bay and director Danny Blair says beyond traditional office space, the building has the potential to accommodate events, conferences, one off meetings and food demonstrations, fostering a versatile environment. Building B offers four distinct warehouse tenancies of 629m² each which include 29m² of amenities and each have a canopy of 40m².

There has already been interest in the building B from Skybright, an innovative health food company, which in July 2023 took the opportunity to showcase the Hastings’ company’s work on fermentation-derived novel protein products, the stage they were at in the laboratory, and why the company believes Foodeast-Haumako is a good fit for it.

Nicky says the long term expectation is that the complex “washes its face” and returns a profit. HBRIC has an expectation of a 6% return on investment.

“It is critical that Foodeast-Haumako we achieve the best result for the shareholders, our Government partner Kānoa, Hawke’s Bay’s agribusinesses, and residents, who have an interest in the project through our shareholders. We’re extremely grateful for the ongoing regional collaboration that has allowed Foodeast-Haumako to be created, and we’re laser-focused on ensuring its success.”

“If we look five years down the track and ask what success looks like, we see a facility that has supported innovative businesses, which are now maturing and graduating into their own premises in Hawke’s Bay, creating new jobs in the region and potentially new industries. “We’re welcoming in new fledgling innovators who are benefitting from a collaborative environment and a supportive alumni.

“We’re sharing Hawke’s Bay success stories with our collaborators in other regions, and we’re connecting our local innovators with the wider food innovation ecosystem nationally and internationally.”


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First published by The Profit. Click here to read the full article.