4 May 2015

Maori-made food from Palmy to Dubai

12:59 pm on 4 May 2015

An iwi-owned company has landed a new deal to supply Dubai with emergency food pouches.

Mr Orr, pictured with his business associates in Dubai.

Mr Orr, pictured with his business associates in Dubai. Photo: Supplied

The wealthy Arab emirate is buying relief packs from New Zealand to dispatch to countries hit by disasters.

The food packs look like microwaveable rice pouches you might buy at the supermarket, and they are made at the Prepared Foods factory in Palmerston North, a division of Aotearoa Fisheries.

This is a big deal for the company, with emergency rations making up five percent of the business.

The firm's development manager, Craig Orr, said up to now they had built reputation by producing beef and gravy ration packs.

"We've in total done just over 300,000 pouches... all of this so far has been in the beef and gravy format".

Happy with that meal, the Middle East territory has asked for more - and a longer menu. Mr Orr has been in Dubai locking in a new contract.

"We're really just in the throes now of designing four new recipes to expand the range to include other beef products - beef and chickpea, a chicken and rice, a lamb casserole, and a chickpea curry."

The food pouches.

The food pouches. Photo: Supplied

The 250 gram pouches themselves are not your standard ration pack - instead of plain foil, the pouches are colourful packs printed with playful drawings of cows, chickens, sheep and vegetables, signifying what meal's inside.

In Dubai, the project has been overseen by the the emirate's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Mr Orr said the packs were ready to go, and the Crown Prince has dispatched a jet to land close to its Palmerston North factory to pick supplies.

"We've got a brand new facility down there, it's only about 18 months old, which has some very large capacity in respect of retort and retort capability. That's where we're sourcing all New Zealand protein at the moment in order to supply and distribute up here [Dubai] through sea freight".

"We have an example last year when we launched the programme with the Sheikh Mohammed himself actually sending his own 747 out and at very short notice managed to get clearance to land at Ohakea [air base] to load the plane".

He said Dubai's relief response could reach a huge amount of people in a short time.

He said the emirate had established the mantra that they could get to one third of the world's population within three hours and two thirds in seven hours.

Mr Orr has now extended his time in Dubai to explore what the company and the emirate can do for the Nepal earthquake relief effort.