Funding to grow southern food sectors

Published: Oct 16, 2020

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  • Otago

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest over $718,500 to grow Dunedin and Invercargill food industries. 

Woman sitting at table with display of fancy chocolates in front of her

Jane Stanton from the Seriously Good Chocolate Company in Invercargill is leading the development of the PGF funded Southern Pioneers Food Hub.

Dunedin-based craft chocolate manufacturer Ocho Limited will receive up to $200,000 to continue its rapid growth and increase productivity by purchasing an automatic wrapping machine. To date the company production has been predominantly manual.

The new machinery will eventually see three new jobs created at its company. Two roles will be in sales and marketing which is crucial for sales growth. The other role will be a person to temper chocolate. The funding will also contribute to the sustainability of the 10 roles Ocho currently employ.

Ocho stands for the Otago Chocolate Company.

Ocho was established following the closure of Dunedin’s Cadbury factory in 2018 after the boutique company crowd-sourced $2 million, in two days, from 3,500 New Zealanders who are now their shareholders.

Ocho’s 30 year vision is to employ up to 200 people nationwide, while retaining Dunedin’s 150-year legacy as the country’s chocolate making capital.

The Seriously Good Chocolate Company (SGCC) will receive $518,580 from the PGF to establish stage one of the Southern Pioneers Food Hub, a collaborative test kitchen to support Southland businesses, iwi and community groups develop innovative food products.

Based in Invercargill, the Food Hub will be an innovation space where people can collaborate to develop their products and ideas with the support of others. They expect new businesses to be established and the growth of existing businesses to be accelerated.

The PGF funding will purchase machinery and equipment and contribute to the fit-out of the space. Initially five new roles will be created, with three more jobs established as growth continues over the two years of stage one.

The Food Hub will actively encourage businesses and start-ups to be innovative and forward thinking in food development. The space will include development space, offices, and meeting and planning rooms.  

The Food Hub will initially be established upstairs at the existing SGCC premises but will be a separate entity from the company.

Jane Stanton from SGCC leads the initiative. Jane began making chocolate truffles using a recipe from her Grandfather and went on to build her company with an aim to capture the flavours of New Zealand in her chocolates. The flavours include fish and chips, paua, Bluff oysters, pinot noir and beer.

Jane is extremely passionate about her business, and Southland, and wants to share her learning from SGCC’s success with others in the region.

Stage 2 of the Food Hub will see the hub move into permanent premises and develop partnerships alongside food producers to extend the breadth of food innovation across Southland and create regional differentiation, economic development, job creation, and efficiency and waste minimisation. Stage 2 is expected to see another 22 jobs created.