New kai ventures giving Welly a boost

29 July 2020

A mobile app that shows where to find the cheapest groceries, a farm growing fresh produce in the city, and businesses that produce plant-based curry pastes and vegan cheese are the winners of the 2020 Wellington Good Food Boost.

Image of fresh produce, including avocado, beans and blueberries, spread across a table.
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The annual competition is a Sustainable Business Network (SBN) initiative, run in partnership with Wellington City Council.

Cheap Kai, Kōkihi, Kavita’s Kitchen, and Terra Nut Cheese were selected as Wellington's best up and coming food businesses for their potential to successfully grow, produce and promote ‘good food’ across the region.

Their focuses include producing healthy and nutritious food that contributes to local economies, reducing waste, and helping protect and restore the environment.

Cheap Kai is a website, and has a mobile app under development, that uses crowd-sourced data to find incredible food deals around Wellington. Users can join this digital community to compare prices and store locations, and upload their own bargain discoveries.

Kōkihi is an urban farm growing microgreens, edible flowers and garden produce in Wellington city. As well as supplying a dozen or so cafes and restaurants, Kōkihi (formerly Our Terroir) hosts occasional workshops on food foraging and mushroom growing.

Based in Island Bay, Kavita of Kavita’s Kitchen creates plant-based curry pastes using her grandma’s traditional recipes. Her products are intended to make life easier for busy people.

Terra Nut Cheese makes vegan cream cheeses of cashews and dairy-free probiotics. Without trying to imitate dairy, Terra Nut Cheese is minimally processed, made from organic whole foods, and doesn’t come wrapped in plastic like many other cheeses.

The Good Food Boost programme offers these four winning applicants mentoring and business development support from some of the country’s most successful food business experts.

The mentors are Matt Morrison (co-founder of All Good and Karma Cola), Kelda Hains (restaurateur for Rita), Teva Stewart (Merchandise Manager, Commonsense), and Bobby Lloyd (co-founder of Reusabowl and sustainability consultant).

The judges checking out fresh microgreens and produce from urban Wellington farm, Kōkihi, which was a winner in the 2020 Wellington Good Food Boost programme.

Judging the contest were Beth Brash (Visa Wellington on a Plate), Nicky Solomon (Business Development Manager, Food Innovation Network), Teva Stewart, and Wellington City Councillor Laurie Foon.

Beth says this year’s contest welcomed fresh ideas.

“For the first time we have a winner with an app/technology focus and also an urban farm. These new and innovative models are exciting to see in Wellington’s food scene.”

Councillor Foon says the winners represent a cross-section of Wellington’s food system.

“We have an urban farm, vegan nut cheese, Indian curry paste, and a food deals app with a te ao Māori focus. How very Wellington! If you haven’t tried the winners’ products yet, get out there and give them a go.”

Council’s Resilience Advisor Brittany Rymer says Covid-19 has reshaped how Wellington’s food and hospitality sectors operate.

“We’ve seen the effects of Covid-19 in the types of applications coming into the Good Food Boost. This year, three of the eight finalists were developing app, technology, and digital products.”

Holly Norton, who leads the SBN Good Food Boost programme in Wellington, says this year’s finalists showed an impressive commitment to sustainability.

Holly Norton from the Sustainable Business Network, with her bike, collecting a zero-waste organic vegan lunch for the judges of the 2020 Wellington Good Food Boost programme.

“All our winners are tackling some of our major food system issues such as climate, waste and water. I’m looking forward to seeing how these businesses continue to grow.”

Food Stories Aotearoa, LOKAI, Greytown Honey, and 3Sixty2 were finalists in the 2020 Wellington Good Food Boost programme. 

Supported by WellingtonNZ, the Good Food Boost is all about strengthening community efforts to increase food sustainability and resilience in Wellington.