The Trustees of The Food Factory in Stoke, Nelson, a new purpose-built facility to mentor and upskill budding food businesses are delighted to be officially open with three tenants already on site.

The Food Factory, completed on time and under budget just before lockdown, is the brainchild of Pic Picot of the nearby Pic’s Peanut Butter World. The facility attracted funding from the Provincial Growth Fund and is operated as a Charitable Trust.

It was officially opened this month by the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau.

“We are thrilled that we have been able to attract tenants so soon after moving from Covid Level 3. It’s encouraging that these businesses have optimism for the future and their products in this Covid economic recovery phase,” says Pic Picot, a Trustee of the venture. Other Trustees include local business leaders Julian Raine of Oaklands Milk and Mark A’Court of FreshChoice, Nelson and public relations and communications consultant Debbie Hannan.

One of the kitchens at The Food Factory

The Factory consists of four commercial food-grade kitchens within the building, that also encompasses warehouse and chiller space, staff amenities, and a presentation kitchen to display and wow visitors, customers and other interested parties.

It harks back to Pic’s early days when he set up a small woodwork business within a large warehouse workshop housing many small enterprises which shared ideas and supported each other.

As well as supporting each other, tenants of The Food Factory will also have the mentor support of an on-site business manager to help navigate the vagaries of the marketplace

“We want to provide a supportive learning environment to enable these small enterprises to grow and set up their own premises and create jobs,” says The Food Factory Manager Brian Olorenshaw.

“Nelson/Tasman is a region with bountiful natural resources and creative entrepreneurs. We want to create a great, supportive learning environment to enable small businesses to capture all the region has to offer,” says Pic.

The three local businesses currently operating in The Food Factory comprise a start-up and two scale-up small business operations. They are:

• Mad Melon – processing and bottling watermelon juice

• Little Beauties – processing and packing dried feijoa, kiwifruit and boysenberries

• Fresh2U – an on-line home delivered organic fruit and vegetable supplier.

“Having a foodgrade facility that enables different businesses to interact and learn from each other’s experiences was very appealing. It’s a very positive low risk environment to be involved in that creates strong business confidence.

“Food manufacturing legislation and marketing can be complex to understand when starting out. Already, The Food Factory has exceeded my expectations of helping us work through these requirements and strategies,” says Jamin Brown of Mad Melon.

“From the viewpoint of Fresh2U’s last premises, a cramped old farm shed, The Food Factory seemed too good to be true – a brand new and clean, affordable with amazing facilities and supportive management.

“The benefits are already manifest in the increased customers I am able to supply, easier access for couriers and customers and have the ability to market in confidence knowing I can rely on the TFF to help facilitate growth.

“I can take on new suppliers, providing opportunities for new growers and increasing local food resilience and I have already taken on three new staff members,” says Lucy Maxwell of Fresh2U.

Little Beauties Tristan Wastney says growing global demand for their products meant they needed another site for product development and finishing work.

“The Food Factory is the perfect solution for us at this stage of our business journey as we get quality kitchen facilities with the added bonus of working shoulder to shoulder and collaborating with other awesome local food and beverage businesses. We’re excited to be a part of it,” he says.

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