Excellence in Primary Industry


TIAKI BEES - Creative business strategy buzzing in Queenstown-Lakes District and Central Otago

Urban pollinators in 
an Otago family’s 
backyard, courtesy 
of Tiaki Bees 
Urban pollinators in an Otago family’s backyard, courtesy of Tiaki Bees PHOTO: LUISA APANUI
The 2020 Covid-19 lockdown prompted a Wanaka hobbyist beekeeper to develop a new business.

When Barna Szocs realised the impact the pandemic would have on tourism businesses and the economy, he ‘‘had to get creative’’.

With a New Zealand apiculturist qualification and experience in commercial honey operations, it did not take him long to come up with a solution.

Financial backing for a traditional commercial beekeeping was not going to happen, so he approached it from a unique direction.

‘‘Beehive rental was born,’’ Barna said. ‘‘Tiaki Bees now exists as a thriving and successful business, underpinned by environmental and educational ethos — working to help the bees, support the biodiversity of our region and educate the community.’’

Tiaki Bees is also evolving, he said. In 2021, the company launched ‘‘Bee Tours’’ to educate locals as well as returning tourists about the importance of bees.

The following year Tiaki Bees developed and launched ‘‘Raw Honey On Tap’’, a honey dispenser located in the region’s wholefood outlets. Designed as a way to sell surplus honey, it offers the community raw, local honey as Tiaki Bees minimises waste and packaging. Last year, its second year of operating, Tiaki Bees reached profitability. 


MILLIGANS FOOD GROUP - Long legacy leading into the future

Milligans Food Group, based in Oamaru, has a rich legacy dating back to 1896. As a cherished, privately-owned family business, Milligans has been prominent in the dairy sector while extending to other locally-sourced products such as flour, where its history began.

‘‘Distinguished by a remarkable product range primarily centred around dairy, we have honed our expertise to create offerings that delight palates across New Zealand,’’ director Joseph Paton says.

‘‘Our achievements extend beyond our brands as we partner with some of the most iconic brands in the country, establishing ourselves as a reliable and trusted partner. But what truly sets Milligans Food Group apart is its exceptional team, with many staff members dedicated to the company for 15, 20 and 25-plus years,’’ Joseph says.

‘‘This enduring commitment empowers the team to take ownership of their roles, fostering a sense of pride and dedication that consistently delivers outstanding results. ‘‘Precision, passion, and partnership define us. Our success story rests on meticulous attention to detail, ensuring that each product meets the highest standards of quality.

Our collaborations amplify our reach, reflecting our commitment to nurturing relationships that yield remarkable outcomes for all parties involved.’’ Integral to Milligans' identity is its significant contribution to the primary industry's growth, reverberating through economic contributions and job creation within the region, he said. Looking to the future, Milligans Food Group remains ‘‘unwaveringly committed to excellence’’.




NEW ZEALAND CHERRY RESCUE PROJECT - Flawed fruit becomes desirable again

The New Zealand Cherry 
The New Zealand Cherry Rescue Project is steering the summerfruit industry towards being waste-free. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A Cromwell initiative is rescuing cosmetically imperfect fruit that was destined for landfills.

The New Zealand Cherry Rescue Project is the brainchild of the family-owned company NZ Cherry Corp, which has been marketing fresh cherries domestically and internationally for more than a decade.

The project aims to take the summerfruit industry waste-free by 2030. It saves all the waste-grade cherries from four participating orchards and turns them into viable food products.

NZ Cherry Corp hopes more orchards will become involved.

One of its successes is the Citizen Cherry Cola that was sold at Burger Fuel through this year’s Wildheart promotion. Another is the Citizen x Morningcider Cherry Bomb cider that featured in the New World Top 30 Beer and Cider awards 2023.

The project also generated Ruby’s Gold Fortified Wine — the first product to come into the project, which is a hit in China. Six Barrel Soda released a cherry pomegranate soda syrup.

Next year the project will include other summerfruits such as nectarines, apricots, and plums.

‘‘The work to date is likely to lead to a rescue of the entire summerfruit ‘fruit bowl’,’’ sales manager Stephanie Cavell says. That could amount to six to 10,000 metric tonnes of waste. ‘‘The project has another 70 innovative products that are undergoing new product development in a sustainable way. This will help bring resilience and flexibility to the summer fruit industry.’’


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