Date posted: 13/11/2017 3 min read

How Theresa Gattung built her NZ food business

Business leader Theresa Gattung shares her vision on why New Zealand and its companies and brands will continue to grow and prosper.

In Brief

  • Future success lies in NZ supporting an innovative culture and retaining unique strengths.
  • NZ stands for balancing tolerance, social cohesiveness and environment with business growth.
  • My Food Bag has grown from a team of five to a company of 120 with a turnover of around NZ$150 million.

By Tina Wild

She's one of New Zealand’s most prominent business leaders, a former chief of Telecom New Zealand and co-founder of internet business phenomenon My Food Bag

But what Theresa Gattung is most passionate about is her unique home country. 

“Cleanness and greenness and social cohesion are what we stand for and will feature high on the agenda for the new government,” says Gattung. “The beauty of our natural environment in such a small geography is unmatched and is priceless.”

Gattung believes these special qualities will always be important for business, impacting on keeping share of capital, trade, future prosperity and the ability to attract talented people; from overseas, as well as retaining talented New Zealanders.

Future business growth

Gattung says small businesses need to grow and be created by utilising New Zealand’s competitive advantages. My Food Bag, which Gattung co-founded in 2012, is a great example. 

My Food Bag is a web-based business that uses technology to deliver nutritious recipes and healthy ingredients to people’s homes. In just under five years, My Food Bag has grown from a team of five to a company of 120 with a turnover of around NZ$150 million.

(Pictured: Theresa Gattung. By NZ Herald)

Food is a product that New Zealand is known for producing to a high quality. Courtesy of its clean environment and rich agriculture, food is a celebration of New Zealand’s natural resources and a drawcard for tourists. 

The power of innovation is demonstrated by the success of My Food Bag, which Gattung says “brought together people at the top of their game.” The collaboration combines the brilliant idea of entrepreneurs Cecilia and James Robinson, and the cooking mastery of celebrity Chef Nadia Lim with Theresa’s formidable business skills. 

Supporting an innovative culture

In order for New Zealand to grow and improve its competitiveness to deliver domestic prosperity in a globalised world, education and being equipped with the right skills is critical. 

“It’s still reasonably easy to get an education in New Zealand compared to other places in the world,” says Gattung. This, she says, is part of the nation’s social contract; “everyone has a fair shot regardless of their background.” 

In order to attract and retain talent, New Zealand must establish programs and processes to support the country’s innovative culture, as well as work towards closing the 12% gender pay gap between men and women, she adds. 

Technology is a key factor that will impact New Zealand’s future growth. Thinking of ways to develop technology-rich innovative solutions will help New Zealanders to play a competitive role in a globalised market, and be at the forefront of digital disruption. 

New Zealand will also continue to draw on its history of socially progressive policy to apply in business problem-solving. A shift in the next generation to mission-driven enterprises will continue to accelerate, says Gattung. 

There used to be a separation between running a business or a charity. “Now the mission-driven business approach is gaining momentum.”

Tina Wild is a content writer for CA ANZ.

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Main picture by Fairfax.