TOP TUCKER: Chris Balazs will be one of the guest panellists at the food forum next week.
TOP TUCKER: Chris Balazs will be one of the guest panellists at the food forum next week. Matt Houston

Working to strengthen local food chain

MEET The Food Innovators, a gathering of award-winners, innovators and regional food advocates, is preparing to meet in Emerald next week in a bid to cultivate and strengthen links in the local food chain for farmers and consumers.

The event, an initiative of Central Highlands Development Corporation's (CHDC) Central Highlands Accelerate Agribusiness (CHAA) program, will connect local, regional and national food innovators with farmers, agribusiness, manufacturing and processing, and food retailers, and provide information on creative and transformative work in these areas.

CHDC Agribusiness Development Coordinator Liz Alexander said one of the aims of the day was to explore alternative high-value markets for local products.

She said there would be interactive panel discussions with a host of experts including Sonya Comiskey from Comiskey Bazadais Beef, ABC radio personality and food consultant Alison Alexander, and Chris Balazs from Provenir, a pioneering mobile meat processor.

Mrs Alexander said experts also included a mix of people from regional areas who have built value-adding business and opportunities for their produce and have a variety of expertise, experience and insights.

"They are keen to share their ups and downs with others who are interested in premium, regional food products.”

Mrs Alexander said the forum would connect local producers to opportunities to value-add to their business, including with local restaurants and events.

"And it will help to lay foundations to make locally grown food more accessible to consumers within our own region,” she said.

Other guests will include North Queensland banana growers Krista and Rob Watkins who have gained international acclaim for their unique green banana flour, and journalist Peter Lewis, who will be MC and panel facilitator.

The full-day program also offers the choice of three field tours; local retail, food and fibre trade displays; and a Cluster Muster, which is a targeted networking session focusing on building collaboration in grains, horticulture and beef industries.

CHDC will share the results from the 2018 Central Highlands Beef Processing Feasibility Study and 2018 Grown in the Central Highlands, a research project that measured the local community's interest in purchasing local produce.

Meet the Food Innovators will be held on October 25, from 8.30am-6.30pm in the Emerald Town Hall. Tickets are $60 per person and are available at


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