Skip to Content

Opening Hours


New Zealand entrepreneurs shine on the FoodStarter stage

  • Lilo Desserts - Lilo Plant Based Cheesecakes, wins the Start-Up Category
  • Kaitahi As One - Frozen Superfood Smoothy Drops, wins the New World Small Supplier Category

    (for suppliers currently locally ranged in a few New World stores)

The pressure was on at the inaugural nationwide FoodStarter Pressure Cooker Pitch last night, held at Foodstuffs Landing Drive, Foodstuffs North Island’s new campus in Māngere.   

The search for New Zealand’s most innovative food and beverage products culminated with ten finalists pitching their exciting products to a judging panel of industry experts. The judges got the chance to taste, hear and ask questions of each of the finalists about why their products should be chosen for the once in a lifetime opportunity.  

At the end of the night, Lilo Desserts, with their plant-based cheesecakes, and Kaitahi As One, with Frozen Superfood Smoothy Drops, emerged winners, wowing the judges to each take home an incredible prize package and the FoodStarter 2021 crown in their respective categories.  Both products will immediately begin an accelerated journey supported by FoodStarter partners that will see them listed at all New Worlds across the country.  

The competition is proudly supported by partners New World and Ministry of Awesome alongside Foodstuffs South Island, Foodstuffs North Island, New Zealand Food Innovation Network, ChristchurchNZ, Strategy Creative and Auckland Unlimited.  

The amazing prize package includes:   

Opportunity to range the winning products in the New World supermarket network across New Zealand.  
Product development and manufacturing support from New Zealand Food Innovation Network.  
Expert business support and mentorship from Ministry of Awesome.  
Branding and marketing support from Strategy Creative. 
$2500 grant for workspace at GridMNK, a place for creators, innovators and entrepreneurs in Auckland. 

Applications for FoodStarter were open from November 2020 through to February 2021. The top ten finalists were picked out of 217 entries to present their products in the Pressure Cooker Pitch Final. The judges, each with a unique insight into New Zealand’s food landscape, had their work cut out for them selecting two winners from the ten finalists.   

Steve Anderson, CEO Foodstuffs South Island and FoodStarter judge was blown away by the standard of the entries and the level of insight each brought to their pitch presentation. “A huge congratulations goes to both category winners. It was a thrilling night, we were so impressed with the winning teams and their products and I have no doubt our customers will be equally as excited when they start to see these fantastic new innovations in New World. 

"It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience and just one of the many ways Foodstuffs is committed to supporting its supplier community. A competition like this, of course, wouldn't be possible without the support of all of our amazing partners – all of whom are committed to supporting New Zealand businesses and making a lasting, positive impact on the food ecosystem in New Zealand." 

Ministry of Awesome CEO, Marian Johnson, an integral part of FoodStarter since its inception in 2018, has been supporting start-ups and innovators in New Zealand for over 15 years and agrees that all the finalists should be extremely proud of themselves. “Food and beverage innovation is a really exciting area and something we’re particularly good at in New Zealand, as all of our 10 finalists demonstrated.   

Winning FoodStarter is such an exciting opportunity because it brings together so many experts ready to help accelerate the progress of two very interesting and appealing new products. I’m really proud to be part of the winners’ journey and winning the Pressure Cooker Pitch is just the beginning.”   

Introducing the winners: 


FoodStarter - Start-Up Category Winner

Lilo Desserts - Lilo Plant Based Cheesecakes

Lilo Deserts are creating the future of feel-good snacking with their plant-based cheesecakes using rescued fruit from New Zealand orchards.  The team behind Lilo - Cleo Gilmour, Russell Haines, Alex Worker and Hayden Kennedy, after living and working overseas, returned to New Zealand with a new appreciation for the value of New Zealand orchardists - so they set out to invent an innovative product that celebrates our food growers and using fruit that might otherwise go to waste.

General Manager of Sales and Marketing, Cleo Gilmour, gave the pitch and was blown away when Lilo was announced the winner of the FoodStarter Start-Up category, “this has been such an incredible journey, it was really exciting getting to the final and being alongside so many passionate foodies who want to make a difference in New Zealand.   We can’t wait to take Lilo to all the New World’s across NZ.


FoodStarter Small Suppliers with New World Category Winner

(for small businesses ranged with some New World’s) 

Kaitahi As One - Frozen Superfood Smoothy Drops 

Whanganui based Kaitahi As One (Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi Iwi) are based on a social ecological entrepreneurship model which recognises and captures value through enterprises where people and nature matter.  The enterprise works collaboratively to grow and source native plant foods and transform them into healthy food and beverage products, with the financial returns invested into the community.  Their Frozen Superfood Smoothy Drops combine nutritious fruit and vegetables with traditional Māori ingredients such as pūha and kawakawa. Designed to make healthy living easier, you just combine the frozen drops with liquid and shake – no blender required!

Kaitahi As One Working Group Lead, Arohaina Owen says, “The calibre of the finalists was mind blowing and we’re so humbled to be recognised in this way.  The wairua of Kaitahi will go to the next level with the help of the FoodStarter partners, the ‘Kaitahi effect’ has really come to life and we can’t wait to get going.”