With lush green fertile soils, regular rainfall, and a temperate climate, Taranaki comprises the perfect ingredients for the production of high-quality, natural food products.

Taranaki has long been a key contributor to New Zealand’s food sector, having helped position the country as a global dairy heavyweight, and driving the red meat, poultry, and plant food industries with production of value-added goods for domestic and international markets.

It is Taranaki’s food sector that has helped to minimise the effects of COVID-19 on the local economy, with exports of food products remaining strong. Major names in food production have established production facilities in Taranaki, and an increasing number of agile, innovative companies have chosen the region to carve their mark in this sector. Buoyant coffee, honey, craft alcohol, fresh produce and baked goods enterprises are on the regional menu – leveraging Taranaki’s unique story and good growing conditions to produce high-quality products that are capturing the attention of global markets and connecting with customers.

As Taranaki’s food story evolves, the region’s natural attributes, experience, knowledge and collaborative approach ensure it will continue to be the home of more new, exciting and creative food products and experiences.

Egmont Honey

The world is abuzz about the health properties of mānuka honey, and a Taranaki company is building a strong international market for its unique Kiwi brand.

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Award-winning South Taranaki-based Egmont Honey, founded by father and son Toby and James Annabell in 2015, has grown rapidly from one hive – a Christmas gift from son to father – to more than 4000 hives.
The company now exports its range of health, skincare, and honey superfood products to more than 20 countries, including China, Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, France and Australia, and has carved out a strong position in the highly competitive wellness brand and supermarket sectors.
To enhance its global presence, in 2017, Egmont Honey sold 51% of its shares to The Better Health Company, a New Zealand enterprise that is majority owned by Singaporean hedge fund CDH, which has US$20 billion under management.
Since 2018, Australian supermarket giant Woolworths has exclusively stocked Egmont Honey’s Waimete Honey Co label, further adding the company’s New Zealand Clover brand, putting both brands in 900 Woolworths stores across the country. Egmont Honey also has contracts with two large Chinese supermarket chains that have more than 1000 stores between them. James Annabell says it’s the company’s story of an all-natural, sustainable product sourced from remote Taranaki forests that has hit a sweet spot with international markets, and has enabled Egmont Honey to grab a good-sized spoonful of the $348 million (2017–18) New Zealand pure honey export industry.
“There’s something like 200 New Zealand honey brands in China, so I guess what makes us unique is we get to sell the great story of this region and where we’re from. The people in the company are driven and pretty passionate about the region, which is a key part of our branding – the mountain is on our label,” he says.
“We have invested quite heavily in a virtual reality experience, so we can take a bit of Taranaki around the world with us and use it as a tool for selling. You can put on a set of goggles and fly in a helicopter all over the Taranaki hill country and right into the middle of where our hives are placed in the mānuka, and then into our factory.”
The hives are not used for commercial pollination, which means the bees are never exposed to pesticides or other chemicals. This allows Egmont Honey to market its honey as among the most natural, pure and pristine in the world.
The company’s success was recognised in 2018, with Egmont Honey clinching Taranaki’s top business accolade, the Supreme Award, at the TSB Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.
The same year, James was named as a finalist for the New Zealand entrepreneur of the year.
James says there is large scope for further development in the food and health product sector in Taranaki.
“Taranaki is fast becoming an attractive place for highly skilled people who want to move to the regions – we have a lot of applications for jobs from outside the region. That brings opportunity for further investment and I think Taranaki is doing a good job in pooling resources and having a presence at the food shows in Auckland and around the country.”

As a natural product, Egmont Honey experienced unprecedented demand during the peak COVID-19 period, particularly in Australia, Japan and Europe. To keep up with demand while maintaining social distancing at different alert levels, Egmont Honey had to retrofit their production process to run in split shifts to continue desired output levels. Supply chain planning for packaging materials was a significant challenge, as were freight delays (sea) and huge increases in airfreight prices.


For one of New Zealand’s largest exporters, it’s the relationships and business connections made across Taranaki that play a vital role in the company’s ongoing success.

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ANZCO Foods, which procures, processes, designs, creates and markets New Zealand beef and lamb products, has production facilities in Eltham (South Taranaki) and Waitara (North Taranaki). Both sites contribute significantly to the company’s annual sales of more than $1.45 billion.
The Eltham plant processes beef, sourced from Taranaki and the lower North Island, and employs 580 staff during the peak season. The Waitara operation makes value-added products, including burger patties for McDonald’s restaurants in New Zealand and Australia, and gourmet foods, including soft beef jerky for a customer in the United States. More than 140 people work at the Waitara plant.
“We have a strong connection with the dairy industry, the transport industry and community throughout Taranaki,” says ANZCO Foods’ Eltham site manager Troy Lambly. “All play key roles in our operations.
“Our Eltham plant is critical to our overall operation; it has the biggest beef throughput in the group and is one of the largest beef processing sites in the North Island. The Taranaki dairy industry is a large part of that production – probably 55% of the 170,000 head of cattle we process at Eltham come out of the regional industry.”
The Eltham plant produces about 50,000 tonnes of meat and by-products a year, worth about $350 million.
“About 90% is exported to 170 countries, particularly China and the United States. Eltham is pivotal in terms of our customer base in the beef market,” says Troy.
The bulk of the remaining raw meat is trucked to Waitara, where it is turned into prepared foods and gourmet products, including more than 460,000 meat patties a day for McDonald’s. The Waitara plant also supplies the global McDonald’s market when there is demand.
Being a predominantly export company, ANZCO relies on secure, reliable connectivity between Eltham, Waitara and export ports.
“We have to target getting product by certain dates to meet vessels all around the North Island, so reliable transport is vital. The transport infrastructure in Taranaki is good. We have strong relationships with trucking companies, particularly Uhlenberg Haulage, who we use for all of our finished product movements that are going to export, and also in the shuttle runs between plants,” says Troy.
“The inland container hub in New Plymouth is also important. We use that heavily, getting containerised product on rail and either held at an internal hub or sent direct to ports around the North Island.”
In December 2017, Japanese company Itoham Foods, which had been a key partner and shareholder in ANZCO since it began in 1989, bought ANZCO Foods outright. Troy says there is opportunity for further national or international investment in Taranaki’s growing and changing food industry.
“There is always demand for, and interest in, New Zealand products. There are good established relationships within Taranaki and doing business here is very good,” he says.
“I also think it’s important that we build on the connectivity between existing business and ensure we add value and enhance what we have already.”

During the Alert Level 4 lockdown period, ANZCO operated as an essential service, providing employment to staff, service to farmers and export of product to overseas partners, and New Zealand.

“Our export markets during the COVID pandemic have steadily opened up, and we are seeing demand for our products from our export partners, which is pleasing to see”, explains Troy.

Looking ahead, ANZCO hopes to expand upon employment opportunities in the new beef season, which would have a positive effect on the community at a time when unemployment could be higher, post COVID-19.
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