Rebranded Auckland Showgrounds to host the biggest food show in the country

The Auckland Food Show will go ahead next week after the ASB Showgrounds were given a fresh lease of life by a new operator.

The last-minute deal between landowner the Cornwall Park Trust and the new operator, the NZ Exhibition & Events Company (NZEEC) followed the voluntary liquidation of the board that ran the showgrounds.

XPO Exhibitions (XPO) general manager Rebecca Stewart said she was delighted that after just a month since the liquidation, things have moved swiftly.

“The confirmation gave us a much-needed boost in confidence for our clients for not just the Food Show, but future events of ours and other organisers,” she said.

“Thank goodness the shows can go on!” Stewart said.

Although, due to Covid-19, two international companies Costco and The Very Good Company pulled out, there had been five new local bookings since last week, she said.

The show has been going continuously for 22 years and this year they are expecting up to 30,000 people across the four-day period, a similar number to the pre-Covid level.

Events due to take place last month, including a Collectors Car sale, had been postponed after liquidators were called in for the Auckland Agricultural Pastoral and Industrial Shows Board.

As of March this year, the venue had lost four major events, including the Home Show and the Royal Easter Show.

Last year, 14 major events were cancelled because of the pandemic, plus 11 smaller shows and concerts.

Tickets for the Food Show this year range from $15 to $95, while children under the age of 5 are free.

“I’ve actually been on board with it for 19 years now. So [I’m] particularly excited to see it continuing this year, and kind of after everything that we’ve been through with Covid, and the disruptions to the business, it’s more exciting than ever to deliver the event,” Stewart said.

In 2020 more than 18,000 people attended the event and about 30,000 people came in the year before.

The Auckland Food Show will be the first big event to be held after being taken over by the NZEEC.

The Food Show will host about 250 exhibitors, including over 100 new companies showcasing everything from niche new foods to the latest household brands and international cuisines.

It will be held at the rebranded Auckland Showgrounds from July 29 until August 1.

Marlborough’s Forrest Wines founder, John Forrest said he had been coming to the Auckland Food Show for more than 20 years and was looking forward to this year.

“It’s always been a good show because people seem interested in learning about your wine and … they seem to enjoy the day that’s well run,” Forrest said.

“People are more educated, they’re asking better questions and it’s great.”

And with that the booze culture has also disappeared, he said.

“They [people] may be smiling and looking a bit happy and chatty but what’s wrong with that,” he said.

“New Zealand doesn’t get credit for, I think, improved drinking culture,” he said.

Venture Taranaki is also working with seven local food producers to showcase Taranaki produce at the show.

Four returnees; local gin distillers Juno Gin, craft brewers Three Sisters Brewing, honey experts Egmont Honey, and pancake-lovers Marcel’s as well as first-time participants artisan fudge-makers FiveFudge, sweet treat producers Bout Time Brownie, and gourmet cracker crafters Mister K.

Venture Taranaki chief executive Justine Gilliland said Taranaki has long been a significant contributor to New Zealand’s food sector.

It has helped position the country as a global dairy heavyweight as well as driving the red meat, poultry, and plant food industries with the production of value-added goods for domestic and international markets, Gilliland said.

This was the fifth year that Venture Taranaki had provided support to a group of local food producers for the show, she said.

The presence at the Auckland Food Show provided opportunities to forge relationships with national and international distribution channels, and gain important feedback from consumers to the producers, Gilliland said.

“The exposure can result in some really great opportunities; for example, last year Kraken Chillies and Zoa Liqueur attracted the attention of buyers and distributors, and in 2019 Kaitahi collaborated with BurgerFuel to create the Electric Pūhā burger after meeting at the show,” she said.

Food and fibre production is the largest sector in Taranaki, contributing $1.5 billion to the local economy and sustaining more than 10,200 jobs.

“Our food companies give passion and momentum to our local food movement and our ever-evolving food story. Their innovations are creating jobs and catching the attention of national and global consumers, adding to the strength of our food sector in Taranaki,” Gilliland said.

The tickets to The Auckland Food Show Auckland are online.

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