Finishing the year with a spuddy good feed!

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In an increasingly pressured climate for farmers, it is more important than ever to tell the good stories, hero our produce and hero the farmers who practice good farm management.

Potatoes New Zealand have a multi-pronged communications approach to this, utilizing industry magazines, online social media campaigns, regular updates to website content and events which engage and connect the public with the industry.

One such event is the November Means New Potatoes annual seasonal launch of new season potatoes. Now in its 3rd year, we aim to connect food writers and other media/PR people with a selection of growers.

This year we had grower families from Pukekohe and Canterbury; Balle Brothers, Wilcox, Bhana Family Farms and Oakleys Vegetables. We also partnered with Wasteminz Love Food Hate Waste as a demonstration of our commitment to reducing waste and social good.

We chose a venue situated ideally for the writers and media and which reflected our desire to show pride in our growers and their work. Hopetoun Alpha was a grand and beautiful setting.

A menu was designed with the focus on potatoes, even in the dessert.

Nadia Lim was the celebrity talent to enthuse the crowd of writers/fans and MC Wallace Chapman ensured we had fun, informative interviews with all grower families, which became the stimulus for the night’s conversations and for writer content for articles and social media posts and blogs to follow.

Invited guests were primarily from the New Zealand Food Writers Guild, but also included the team from ATEED and some representative retail buyers as well.

It is important to find opportunities to develop networks and strengthen visions across potentially collaborative organizations. ATEED have worked recently in documenting Pukekohe grower stories and are willing to share the finished video products with our organization to further the story-telling and support the resilience of the regions industry.

Food Writers need to feel valued and by providing them with a delicious, bespoke menu and delightful grower family stories, covering histories, varietal characteristics and industry challenges and passions, we saw their inspiration and enthusiasm overflow.

The repercussions could be seen for many days after the event with a myriad of social media posts, blogs and online discussions about the growers they’d met, the nostalgic associations with NZ produce that had been shared and the potato recipes they’d enjoyed at the event. Lauraine Jacobs had also done a spread on new potatoes in The Listener (a sell-out edition).

It is clear that as well as all the work we do inside the industry on research, extension, tools to keep up with changes in regulation etc, need to be constantly supported in the background by keeping the public and consumer connection with the value of NZ produce and the efforts of industry to continue to provide locally, safely, sustainably grown food.

Provenance is what the consumer is demanding. The channel to communicate this is NZ Food Writers.