Food Experience and Sensory Testing (FEAST) offering hands on courses in XLSTAT run by Qi Statistics and hosted by FoodHQ partner Massey University

The Massey University Food Experience and Sensory Testing Laboratory in collaboration with Qi Statistics welcome registrations for two short courses focused on using XLSTAT for sensory analysis to be held in Palmerston North in August 2019.

FEAST is coordinating the delivery of the courses by Anne Hasted of Qi Statistics who began her career as an academic statistician at Reading University. She is the founder and senior consultant at Qi Statistics Ltd, a UK based consultancy, offering statistical training and support to research and industry. She has many years training and consultancy experience in the food industry, particularly in the areas of consumer and sensory research and is well recognised for providing user friendly training courses.

On the 26th August 2019 Anne will be running Hands on Consumer Test Analysis using XLSTAT 

This one day training course is designed to give you confidence in analysing and reporting data collected from consumers using XLSTAT software. Emphasis will be on the application of the techniques and the interpretation of the results through graphical displays rather than heavy mathematical detail. The day will end with a session on the key aspects of consumer test design. The course provides either an introduction to new entrants into the area or a refresher for these wanting to brush up their statistical techniques. Each session will include a practical workshop where participants can consolidate what they have learnt using XLSTAT, with suggested solutions to take away with them for future reference.

More details and registration here 

On the 27th August 2019 Anne will be running Hands on Consumer Preference Mapping using XLSTAT 

This one day training course is designed to give you confidence in the more in depth analysis of consumer preference using XLSTAT software. We will cover aspects of preference mapping , a technique suitable for studies involving at least six products selected to uncover different preferences among consumers. The course is directed at a level suitable for people who have attended day one of this programme or are reasonably confident with the basics of statistical analysis. Each session will include a practical workshop using XLSTAT, where participants can consolidate what they have learnt with suggested solutions to take away with them for future reference.

More details and registration here


FoodHQ secures $100k funding from Provincial Growth Fund

It is a tribute to the collaborative work by all partners that Food HQ has benefited from a $100,000 grant from the Provincial Growth Fund to investigate developments that could provide exciting prospects for the region.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones made the announcement while visiting the region this week .

Food HQ CEO Abby Thompson said “This funding will be used to undertake the development of a business case which will form the basis of the subsequent investor information and application to the Provincial Growth Fund.

Minister Jones said “The PGF support towards these projects will help Manawatū-Whanganui progress work important to their region and ensure projects become investment-ready.”
This region has a long proud history in the primary industries, and the agricultural and horticultural footprint in the lower North Island is strong. Science and research development in agri-food already undertaken by FoodHQ partner’s has significance regionally, nationally and globally highlighting the Manawatū region’s role, capability and leadership in continuing to add value to New Zealand’s primary industries.

FoodHQ’s board chair, Sue Foley, says this funding is a real acknowledgement of the high calibre of work being done by the hundreds of food scientists who are based here, and the collaboration between FoodHQ’s partnering organisations. “This is hugely exciting and this project has got the potential to put the region on a global stage.

The Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will work with FoodHQ to determine the scope and implementation of the funding through a collaborative process with all parties.

FoodHQ chief executive Dr. Abby Thompson said the confirmation of funding for the business case was a “significant first step” and testament to the good amount of work done by the main stakeholders. “I am delighted with today’s announcement of funding to develop our FoodHQ value proposition and excited to lead this work on behalf of the FoodHQ partners. As a partnership we believe our depth of capability in science and technology is fundamental to fueling the economic growth of the Manawatu and regional New Zealand by increasing export revenues from high value food and agri-food technologies.”

About FoodHQ
FoodHQ is a collaborative partnership that creates value from the ideas and collective thinking from one of the world’s leading clusters of food expertise and facilities – over 2000 researchers and food experts mostly located within a square kilometer of their base in Palmerston North. The FoodHQ partnership includes Massey University, Fonterra, AgResearch, Plant and Food Research, The Riddet Institute, The Factory, New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre, Palmerston North City Council, Manawatu District Council, Central Economic Development Agency, ESR and Cawthron Institute.

About the PGF
The New Zealand Government has allocated three billion dollars over a three-year term to invest in regional economic development through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

Abby Thompson, Chief Executive Officer
Mobile: +64 21 774 864


THE WHOLE MIX Spiralised Vegetable Noodles Judged Supreme Winner at 2018 NZ Food Awards

THE WHOLE MIX vegetable noodle range produced by Speirs Foods from the Rangitikei town of Marton has taken out the Massey University Supreme Award winner at this year’s New Zealand Food Awards. The Whole Mix Co. Limited also won the Massey University Health and Wellbeing Award and the James & Wells Business Innovation Award for its noodle range that includes Zucchini, Butternut, Medley (Beetroot, Carrot, Zucchini) and

Kumara. Judges said the products are a tasty and nutritious alternative to pasta, can be used in stir-fries and salads, or eaten straight from the package and their growing popularity reflects some of the changing tastes of New Zealand consumers. Ross Kane, Managing Director of Speirs Foods, parent company of The Whole Mix Co. Limited, says winning the awards is recognition of the way the company has evolved and improved over the past 18 months. “We got the team reinvigorated, got the right culture within the business and set a goal of

being more innovative and producing what people really wanted in the market place, and I
think it’s just a celebration of that journey over the past 12 to 18 months. Our vision is to
create fresh food to make people’s lives healthier and easier and this is just the beginning of
our journey – watch this space for more innovation,” Mr Kane says.

The collective team of judges say the vegetable noodle range rides the wave of market demand for easy to serve fresh vegetables, with a twist. “These prepacked, spiralised, microwaveable vegetable noodles, prepared from locally-grown vegetables, are delicious, nutritious and fill a much-needed gap in the fresh vegetable market. Consumers are crying out for fresh products they can cook or prepare quickly and easily.

The judges especially loved that the vege noodles were so versatile, and could be served up raw to spice up a salad, or microwaved to offer additional nutritional vegetable options for busy Kiwis. “This product demonstrates innovation, creativity and tasty NZ grown produce. Well done to the team at The Whole Mix Co. Limited,” they said.

Head of James & Wells’ Food & Beverage Innovation team Carrick Robinson says, “The Whole Mix Co. Limited have listened to their consumers and have followed healthy eating and convenience trends to considerably grow the category. They have indicatively adapted the way every department operates following the launch of the new consumer brand and also understand the value of protecting it.” The 11 category winners and Supreme Award winner were unveiled at the gala dinner event at Auckland’s Sky City Convention Centre last night, in front of 400 guests. The awards, which have been running since 1987, celebrate creative innovation from New Zealand’s food and beverage manufacturers. More than 220 products were entered this year, with 67 products from 54 companies being named finalists.

Belinda Bonnor
Marketing Manager
Speirs Foods
Ph: 06 323 0563 Mobile: 021 949 393

The Apple Press Win The Non-alcoholic Beverage Award in Association with FoodHQ at the NZ Food Awards 2018

The Apple Press® from Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand is on a mission to make the world’s best apple juice, from what are quite possibly the world’s best apples – this is apple juice like you’ve never tasted before. The judges of the 2018 New Zealand Food Awards recognized the hard work and innovation put in by The Apple Press®  who were judged winners of the Non-alcoholic Beverage category.

Ross Beaton Co-Founder of The Apple Press said they were absolutely thrilled to win. ‘We are a still a new start-up so to win a national award after 5 months is just fantastic. We are really proud of our products and believe we make the world’s best apple juice, so this award means a lot” Beaton went on to thank The Apple Press team, their customer fan-base and supporters such as Callaghan Innovation, T&G Global and NZTE.

FoodHQ was proud to sponsor the category and we are excited for them to continue to share the pleasure of drinking a Hawke’s Bay apple with the world.

Dr. Abby Thompson CEO of FoodHQ was impressed by the quality and care that goes into the products produced by The Apple Press. Dr. Thompson commented that “this product demonstrates innovation, creativity and tasty NZ grown produce combined with a passionate team with a clear focus.”

The Apple Press® apples are given the 5-star treatment, hand-picked at their peak ripeness, cold pressed just once, then bottled delicious for you. They press from individual varieties like Jazz™, Braeburn and Royal Gala because they reckon, just like wine, every apple has its own taste characteristics. They also sustainable source the cosmetically blemished apples others reject, and can trace their apples back to their orchards of origin.

The best apple juice in the world will be available nationwide in New Zealand so keep an eye out at your local store!

Modern Technologies and Food Purchasing: Guest Post by Dr. Mike Boland

A Brief History of Modern Food Purchasing

The 1950s saw a disruptive change in the way we purchase our food: until then, we relied on small local grocery stores, butchers and greengrocers, where the grocer or butcher fetched food items on request. Items could also be pre-ordered by phone and either collected from the store or delivered to the home, often by a boy on a bicycle. The key to the disruption was allowing customers direct access to the food stores with checkouts at the door. Thus was invented the modern supermarket, which sold all kinds of food, and the selection of food items passed directly into the hands of the customer with little or no intervention from the retailer. This inevitably led to a consolidation of the food retail industry and an almost total loss of the service aspect of the industry. The Future of Food Purchasing

The Future of Food Purchasing

Today, we are on the verge of a similarly disruptive change: Online ordering of almost everything has taken over from local retail outlets. Probably the most dramatic examples are in books and music – downloads are the rule and local purchase the exception. Food has been slower to follow, but we are on the edge of a massive change to online purchase, particularly of packaged and processed foods. Models developed by Amazon, originally for books, are being adapted for use with food items, by Amazon itself and by other players; and, as an example, the British company Ocado has developed a highly automated, completely online system for grocery retail and delivery in Andover in the UK (  It is ironic that this change will lead to the modern equivalent of the telephone order, followed by pick-up or delivery, that was commonplace in the 1950s.

Online shopping from supermarkets has been available for nearly 20 years, but initial uptake has been slow. It generally worked by having people employed as “shoppers” who put together the order – much as in the days of the local grocer – and the order could be delivered or picked up from a ‘pickup point’. This is now changing, using the robotic systems developed by Amazon and others (notably Ocado in the UK), whereby selections are put together and checked out in large, robotically operated warehouses, ready for delivery. It is likely that in urban areas an Uber-type grocery delivery system will develop quickly (one example, Instacart, is already in operation in parts of the US and Canada), and robot delivery, including delivery using drones, is already being trialed (for example by Amazon Prime Air). This model will not work as easily for some fresh foods because of variability in fresh foods and difficulties in labelling and in handling and protection, but this can be managed in other ways, and with the trend towards purchase of fresh foods at local markets, may be a separate consideration.

What will Online Purchasing Look Like?

Variants of online grocery shopping abound. Virtual supermarkets can be as simple as displays on the wall of a subway station with barcodes that can be read by a smartphone app (such displays have been present in South Korea for many years and can be found in some airports), through to full virtual reality supermarkets.

Virtual Reality (VR) enables users to feel like they are among the shop aisles without having to travel. VR-based supermarket and retail stores were considered by many as the logical successor to online shopping. Ecommerce and retail giants like Alibaba (e.g. Buy+), eBay and IKEA have trialed various VR options and a Tesco version has been demonstrated (  A few VR-based supermarkets have started operating in the last few years (e.g. a Tesco store in Berlin). However, the uptake of VR for shopping seems to have stagnated after the initial hype. Virtual shopping (based on QR code scans), checkout-less shop (e.g. Amazon Go) and on-demand grocery delivery (e.g. Instacart) seem to have supplanted VR.

Augmented reality (AR) blends the virtual and the real world and reconciles e-commerce with bricks & mortar stores. It facilitates the implementation of smart, interactive supermarkets, enabling the shoppers to see real-time information (product attributes, carbon footprint information, product reviews etc.) as they move around a store. Food shopping typically involves quick decision-making. An AR-based system can help someone shop according to their dietary requirements through rapid, accurate associations between food items and dietary recommendations.

There are AR-assisted smartphone apps for real-time, customized recommendations of healthy products, highlighting products to avoid, and identifying suitable alternative products, for various types of health concerns and general caloric intake. There are also operational supermarkets that use interactive tables and shelves to display augmented labels (nutritional value, presence of allergens, waste disposal instructions etc.) on screens suspended above when a customer inspects a product.

The Connected Kitchen

A smart kitchen (also known as a connected kitchen) aims to perform a variety of tasks, including ingredient recognition and grocery ordering. Based on inventory level and consumption, modules such as smart fridges can produce shopping lists and can even perform automated (online) orders (, and waste bins can scan labels and automatically re-order. This will have the effect of locking in purchasing patterns and brand preferences.

Purchasing of food is on the cusp of change and it is important that New Zealand food producers and manufacturers get on board – the value chain and the supply chain are changing!

For more about food and the digital age, please see:

Dr Mike Boland is a Principal Scientist at the Riddet Institute and was elected a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry in 2006 and a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology in 2014.


New consumer and sensory science facility on the way

Massey University’s Manawatū campus will soon have a state-of-the-art consumer and sensory science facility, to help determine what drives people in their food choice behaviour.

The $2.2 million facility for the Food Experience and Sensory Testing Laboratory, funded by Massey, will sit on the site of the old Ecology Building, alongside the Food Pilot and upcoming Food Science Facility.
College of Sciences Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Ray Geor says the investment continues to build on the strong food science capability at Massey and in the Manawatū.

“Food science has always been a major focus of the campus and we are continuing to ensure we have the best facilities in the world here for our researchers and for New Zealand companies. The timing of this latest investment is excellent as it coincides with the innovative new ideas, initiatives, and increased collaboration from Manawatū food organisations.”

The facility will increase the already strong food-science presnece in Palmerston North from the likes of FoodHQ, Fonterra, AgResearch and Plant and Food Research.

Professor Joanne Hort led the case for the facility as the Fonterra-Riddet chair in consumer and sensory science.
“We are on a journey to becoming a global leader in consumer and sensory science research, and this facility is a big part of allowing us to do that. It will enable the delivery of programmes at the cutting edge of consumer and sensory science research,” Professor Hort says. “Our research is consumer-focused, we seek to understand what people like in food, what influences their enjoyment. As well as understanding the sensory properties of food and beverages, like taste and smell, we can also evaluate perception and how packaging and labelling influences people’s decisions.

“We explore emotional response and contextual effects on food choice and individual variation in perception,” she says.

The facility will have immersive environments where consumers may experience foods in different settings and for different occasions. There will be the capacity to test with mixed and virtual reality and the traditional sensory booths and rooms for focus groups.
Fonterra’s director of research and development, Mark Piper, says that consumer-centric innovation is critical to the success of New Zealand’s value-added agenda to which Fonterra is committed.

“This world-class facility is an important part of the solution in delivering this and should be a cornerstone of Massey’s credentials as a leading food science university.”

Riddet Institute deputy director Professor Warren McNabb says the facility is highly-anticipated.

“The laboratory is very important to the future research direction of the Riddet Institute, one of New Zealand’s Centres of Research Excellence. To be able to link sensory perception to consumer decisions right through to the digestion of food is fundamental to the future of the food industry in New Zealand.”
Professor Hort’s research team, established last year, has been busy working on projects for Riddet, the FoodPilot and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise. These have involved establishing expert sensory evaluation panels and a consumer database of participants made up of members of the public who have so far been instrumental in researching dairy products, meats, and New Zealand-made gin.

Other projects include student-led work to examine the impact of context on how people respond to eating snack foods. It achieves this by comparing the experience of eating snack foods in a real and  a traditional sensory environment, with a mixed reality environment which provides a virtual experience of their surroundings via a HoloLens.

“Our new facilities will be an asset for consumer-centric food companies developing new foods for New Zealanders and export markets,” Professor Hort says.

“We’re growing our capabilities by the day with the cooperation of many organisations all committed to producing the best food. A big part of what we are doing is putting consumers at the centre of food product design ensuring foods are good for health, meet what’s wanted in international markets and, importantly, means people enjoy their food.”

Post originally appeared here.

Manawatu Represented in the New Zealand Food Awards Finalists

Manawatu has shown it’s not only the heart of food science but is also the home of some nifty food companies.
Three companies from the region across three award categories have been named as finalists in the New Zealand Food Awards.

The Whole Mix Co. – Finalists in the Massey University Health and Well-being category and also in the James & Wells Business Innovation Award category.

Based in Marton and owned by Speirs Foods, The WHOLE MIX CO. are an inspired group of talented foodies collaborating on a range of fantastic food to go. Their outlook is simple: they refuse to compromise when it comes to health, quality and taste, and aim to cater to time-poor individuals and families who share their values.

Their food is authentic and made with care by sustainable minds. THE WHOLE MIX CO. are proud to be 100% Kiwi, and their extensive range of Grab & Go salads and sides are freshly sourced from New Zealand’s pristine rural surroundings and beyond.

The product range that caught the eye of the judges consists of THE WHOLE MIX spiralised vegetable noodles, including their Butternut, Kumara, Medley and Zucchini options.


Turk’s Poultry FarmFinalists in the James & Wells Business Innovation Award category

 Located in the Horowhenua, TURK’S are proud to serve your family deliciously tender, juicy corn-fed and free range chicken with a rich, buttery flavour; its golden colour reflecting the goodness of sun ripened corn that all their chickens are raised on in line with the finest European tradition.

The family-owned business proudly raises corn-fed and corn-fed free range chickens on select farms in the Horowhenua.


The judges were impressed by their exceptional range of chicken products, including their corn-fed free range  Whole Chicken, Roast in Bag Chicken, Chicken Nibbles and Butterflied Chicken with either Filipino Pinoy BBQ or Sriracha Chilli and Lime.

The Crafted and Co. – Finalists in the Chilled/Short Shelf Life Award, In Association With Eagle Protect category

The Crafted and Co. is a partnership between a group of obsessive foodies, including Bread Bakers, a nationally recognised Cake Decorator, Passionate Chefs and Event Planners.

With a fully customised and high spec catering trailers, The Crafted and Co. can provide any style of food for up to 300 people at a private event or far more in a food truck style setting. Specialising in high-quality wholesome food they aim to provide high quality and tasty food customised by the client.

Crafted and Co.’s Fig and Walnut Loaf was a hit with the judges, and it is well worth tracking down one of their food trucks to try for yourself.

Finalists of the New Zealand Food Awards 2018 Announced

Finalists for the 2018 New Zealand Food Awards have been announced and include a range of products new to grocery shelves, including Pāmu deer milk powder, Ōra King TYEE salmon from New Zealand King Salmon and cultured vegan butter from Savour Ltd.

The awards, now in their 32nd year, showcase the best New Zealand has to offer in the food and beverage industry and celebrate the creative innovations from Kiwi food and beverage manufacturers, from artisanal products through to large-scale companies.

Sixty-seven products from 54 companies are finalists this year, across 11 categories including Artisan, Novel Food or Beverage and Business Innovation. One of the category winners will be announced as the Massey University Supreme Award winner, at the Gala Dinner in Auckland in October. The Gala Dinner is always a wonderful event and tickets can be purchased here.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the University is extremely proud of the role the awards have had in showcasing excellence and innovation in food and beverage production for the past three decades.

“We know New Zealanders are regarded as world leaders in this sphere and it is right that we remind ourselves each year just how extraordinarily talented and creative the people in our food sector are – and celebrate their achievements,” Professor Thomas says.

FoodHQ is pleased to be a partner of the New Zealand Food Awards and CEO Dr. Abby Thompson was invited to discuss the finalists for the Non-Alcoholic Beverages Award which is presented in association with FoodHQ.
There were a number of exciting entries in the category and FoodHQ as the category sponsor is pleased to announce that the three finalists selected are The Apple Press with their premium apple juice, WNS Group with their long life lactose free milk and Aunt Jeans Dairy featuring a light milk.

Opinion: Disruption and Opportunity in Food and Agriculture

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts that nearly 10 billion people will live on this planet by 2050, and recent studies are showing that we will need to produce 70 percent more food to keep up with the population growth.

“Major transformations in business as usual food science, agricultural systems, rural economies, and natural resource management will be needed if we are to meet the multiple challenges before us and realize the full potential of food and agriculture to ensure a secure and healthy future for all people and the entire planet,” states FAO in its publication entitled The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges.

Fortunately, the makings of the next agritech revolution are underway and great initiatives such as Sprout, Agritech New Zealand and are leading the NZ Inc charge. The on-farm innovations driving the revolution include genomics and biotechnology, bio-pesticides and bio-stimulants, self-driving tractors, wireless sensors, nanotechnologies, urban farming with fully closed small glasshouses and LED technology, and the use of big data and artificial intelligence in agriculture, just to give a handful of examples.

However, this will fail to meet the full potential of increased export value for New Zealand from the primary sector unless the next links in the value chain are strengthened and the value-added processing of food component is improved.

FoodHQ is focused on this part of the chain by bringing the smartest food science minds together to enhance and accelerate the ability of New Zealand to be at the forefront of R&D innovation in targeted areas and close the gaps in the ecosystem between new ideas and consumer ready products backed by world class research.

In the Emerging Growth Opportunities in New Zealand Food & Beverage Report 2018, the New Zealand government has outlined the growth opportunities in the country’s food and beverage sector, which generates US$29 billion in exports and represents over half of the country’s merchandise export earnings.

According to the report, New Zealand is making good use of its proximity to Asian markets, good climate, and fertile soils, but opportunities to drive growth with further technological innovation are still plentiful. If the New Zealand food and beverage sector can fill the ecosystem gaps, collaborate and successfully position itself as a global leader in innovation, it will be able to lead global food and agriculture disruptions and make the future of all people on this planet brighter.

In my previous role I was fortunate enough to hang around some experienced entrepreneurs and corporate leaders who regularly told me to “follow the smart money”.  I came to interpret this as meaning that venture capitalists and their investment bets offer us a window to the future as they attempt to peer around the corner to see what’s coming next in terms of industry disruption and identifying growth sectors.

Already, venture capitalists from around the world are investing billions of dollars in technological innovations in the agriculture & food sector that have the potential to disrupt every link of the food chain and address the challenge of how we’ll feed the exploding world population in the future.

The number of venture capital investments into agriculture and food skyrocketed in 2013 and the trend doesn’t look to be slowing.

“In New Zealand, where agriculture and food contribute more than US$37 billion to the economy annually, investment opportunities are abundant. “It is a great location for bringing the best of new agritech from around the globe,” says Arama Kukutai, a partner in American venture capital investment company Finistere. “Agritech is seeing a new apogee in investment and New Zealand stands to profit from this megatrend where US$85 billion was invested in venture capital in 2017, and over US$1.5billion in agritech.”

The depth and wealth of experience that FoodHQ represents in R&D in food science clustered in one location has the potential to attract some smart money and solidify our relevance globally in adding value to food production.

Every time I question whether smart money really can be attracted to fund innovative ideas and disruptive technologies in little old Palmerston North, I need only open my office door and right across the hallway is Biolumic who recently announced the close of $5 million in Series A financing led by Finistere Ventures.

The food and agriculture industries are facing significant challenges to meet demand and massive investments are being made to turn these challenges into opportunities to make the entire food chain more efficient. In New Zealand we need to collaborate, accelerate value added processing and collectively put our hand up to signal we want a slice of the global action.

I think it is an incredibly exciting time for the New Zealand food industry as we collectively navigate these national and international changes. FoodHQ CEO Dr. Abby Thompson and I look forward to sharing more of our ideas, partner events and our FoodHQ initiatives with you over the coming months.

Introducing FoodHQ Programme Manager, Amos Palfreyman.

Amos Palfreyman is passionate about the Manawatu’s potential to become an international food science destination, and he has a unique background to help make it happen.

For the past five years Amos was the Economic and Trade Affairs Advisor at the Embassy of Israel in Wellington. His role focused on connecting and encouraging technology driven businesses in Israel and New Zealand to work together for mutual benefit. He was curious as to what New Zealand could learn from working with Israel, a nation that punches above its weight in terms of entrepreneurship and technological innovation. His role in economic and trade development included NZ trade visits to Israel and culminated in several successful technology joint ventures in the agriculture, medical and energy sectors.

One of these involved a collaboration between Nelson based company, NZ Supreme Health and Algatech an Israeli partner to scale their micro-algae to commercial levels before returning it to New Zealand for the extraction of astaxanthin. The algae is grown in Nelson and was originally developed in partnership with FoodHQ partner Cawthron Research Institute who worked with Supreme Health to successfully establish a pilot scale facility and ultimately an Astaxanthin export market.

Another important aspect of the role was the facilitation of NZ trade visits to Israel like the May 2016 fact finding mission led by Simon Moutter MD of Spark which included the now Minister of Trade David Parker. Their mission was to identify why Israel was so successful at creating and growing technology start-ups and what could New Zealand learn.

Some of the key learnings from that trip was that despite New Zealand developing innovative technologies on par with anything in Israel there was a comparatively weak level of commercialisation of these technologies and that as a nation New Zealand was not effective at collaborating.

Amos says a significant difference between the two countries, identified in a 100-page report following the visit, was the way Israel embraced entrepreneurship as a nation and specifically their culture around failure.

“New Zealand investors want to back proven winners, but Israeli investment funds often don’t invest in someone who has just had success. They actually want to invest in someone who has failed and demonstrated they have learnt from the failing.”

Israel’s collaborative and easy to navigate start up ecosystem and the willingness of the Israeli government to de-risk private venture investment combined with a nationally celebrated entrepreneurial culture has resulted in it becoming a world leading technology and research destination.

Amos’ most recent visit to Israel was in May 2018 when he was fortunate enough to join a delegation of senior NZ and Australian agriculture executives led by Fonterra’s Miles Hurrell with a focus on learning lessons in agritech and foodtech from the “startup nation” ecosystem.

The visit and the incredible opportunity for NZ recognised in the subsequent report resulted in  Amos’ career coming full circle two months later in July 2018 when he joined FoodHQ, just a few hundred metres away from Fonterra Research and Development Centre where he first began work in the sensory division over 10 years ago.

“Food technology runs in my blood with my father Kevin being a stalwart of the dairy science community and my brother Daniel about to begin his Master in Food Technology at Massey University.”

He has a deep interest in food, a genuine desire to contribute to NZ Inc and a commitment to seeing NZ reach it’s potential for increased export growth based on value added products. It’s also clear he has a deep belief in the the power of the FoodHQ partners to collaborate and make Manawatu a global food science destination.

“It’s really exciting to be working at the intersection of scientists and food. If you have a great idea for something about food and want to connect with some experts in the field doing cool things, FoodHQ is where you come.”

FSF Building Design

Work to begin on cutting-edge new food research facility

A new food research facility supporting the future of New Zealand’s exports has reached an important milestone, with a contractor appointed and the construction process to start next week.

The $45m Food Science Facility for FoodHQ Partners AgResearch and Massey University will accommodate about 140 staff and students from the two organisations as well as from the Government-funded centre of research excellence, the Riddet Institute.

It will feature laboratories and shared spaces focused around education and research into meat and dairy in a three-storey, 5000 square metre building that will be New Zealand’s largest agri-food innovation centre.

The facility will also be a key component of FoodHQ – a partnership to grow New Zealand’s reputation in food and beverage innovation that includes AgResearch and Massey University among its network of science and innovation partners (more at

AgResearch Chief Executive Dr Tom Richardson says local firm McMillan & Lockwood has been confirmed as the lead contractor to build the facility.

“Work to prepare the site for building is due to begin after Waitangi Day next week. At this stage, the plan is to have the building completed by October 2019. The occupants will include AgResearch staff already based in Palmerston North, and others working in the food sciences who will be relocating to the city,” Dr Richardson says.

“This new joint facility concept – similar to what AgResearch is doing with Lincoln University near Christchurch – is going to accelerate innovation by having world-class talent working together under one roof. In the case of food research, it means the opportunity for new generation products that offer exciting new textures and flavours, and improve peoples’ health and nutrition.”

Massey Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the facility is another exciting development for the university and its Manawatū campus, and integral to Massey’s collaborations with research institutions and other organisations and businesses involved in growing New Zealand’s food exports and reputation for quality and innovation.

“Part of Massey’s strategy is that all our campuses will be innovation ecosystems, magnets for smart enterprises and operated in partnerships founded in respect, trust and mutual benefit,” Professor Thomas says.

“The creation of this facility epitomises those goals we have set for ourselves and our partners.”


Article first appeared here

Cooked Meat

Opinion: The future of food by Dr Tom Richardson

The future of food – especially the emergence of “synthetic foods” and what this might mean for New Zealand as a major food producer – has certainly been prominent in media and BBQ conversations this summer.

As a science organisation dedicated to growing the value of New Zealand’s agri-food sector, FoodHQ Partner AgResearch is highly attuned to both the challenges and opportunities posed by these new technologies. From where we sit, the claims of an impending collapse of New Zealand’s traditional food exports in the face of this alternative protein revolution just don’t reflect what we are seeing and experiencing.

There is no question the technology to produce “synthetic foods” (including animal cell culture to produce meats and milk without animal farming, and plant-based substitutes that emulate the taste, smell and texture of animal products) is advancing rapidly. Those advances are dramatically improving the quality of these products whilst at the same time reducing costs. In the last four years, the cost of cell cultured meat patties has dropped from US$325,000 to US$12 and Impossible Foods is now able to produce four million plant-based protein burgers a month, and selling them in restaurants at the same price as a premium meat burger (around US$15).

As we seek to feed a global population heading beyond nine billion by 2050, we need a host of sustainable food production systems. These new technologies, and others not yet in development, will be an important component of our global food system, and more and more of us will meet some portion of our dietary requirements through them. And in fact I think NZ can carve out its own niches in “synthetic foods” – which we will see play out over time.

However, as most are well aware our food exports are not targeting the billions, but rather those niches where our products can attract the premium price that our small producers – a long way from customers – need. This has been our journey as a nation and it continues today and will tomorrow as technology makes it easier and easier for us to describe and demonstrate our unique provenance stories to customers around the world. Our challenge is to be ever more finely attuned to the changing wishes of those consumers, which are amongst the fastest growing groups globally.

The longer term opportunities for New Zealand’s agri-foods, and the experiences they offer, is borne out at AgResearch by the strong demand we are experiencing from both New Zealand and international firms seeking to reposition their supply chains and innovate their products to succeed in these growing markets.

In November, AgResearch signed up to a relationship with South Korea’s largest pharmaceutical company, Yuhan Corporation (who will invest significantly to bring NZ’s deer products to Asian markets). More of these bilateral innovation partnerships that enhance the value of NZ agri-food products are being confirmed, or are in the pipeline for AgResearch and NZ. We’ve also seen new investment such as Japanese food company Itoham approved to grow its stake in ANZCO Foods to 100 per cent.

These investments reflect how favourably New Zealand’s agricultural products are viewed by those firms with close ties to these markets, and the potential seen for much more value creation.

To realise that potential, we need to be highly attuned to what attributes those customers value. We have exciting science underway looking into how meat could be personalised for people’s individual health needs, and how dairy products can be designed to boost brainpower in adults and enhance brain development in infants. These are exciting advances and we are working with the world’s best to develop scientifically validated health benefits for a range of NZ products and ingredients.

However, much of the “added value” achieved by NZ food exports is created by our production systems and the certification, branding and provenance storytelling that we build around those systems. These production systems will underpin the uniquely NZ value proposition in the coming decades too. As production systems diversify to meet changing consumer demand for different food sources, AgResearch is well-equipped to support the agri-food sector to successfully make those shifts.

So we need to be finely attuned to the expectations of consumers and we need to recognise that advances such as social media, micro-sensors and blockchains mean that every production and supply system in the world is heading towards total transparency. If we do it on a NZ farm we should expect that a customer sitting down to a meal in Tokyo, Palo Alto, Paris or Tauranga to know about it, and make a personal value judgement on it.

As a scientist myself, I find this evidence-rich future exciting. As one of our AgResearch board members used to say “Sunlight is a great disinfectant!”. But it also means that our practices have to be totally consistent with our claims. And as an agri-food sector we know there is work to do here as the bar is constantly rising. Again, at AgResearch we are seeing leading businesses investing much more aggressively in areas like animal welfare, novel farm systems and technologies that greatly enhance environmental sustainability.

I think we are fortunate that in many of these areas the overseas consumers’ expectations are no different to what we as New Zealanders want from our production systems, and the surrounding landscapes and rivers. New Zealanders have spoken loud and clear on this issue of the environment – a Colmar Brunton poll released this month (Jan) found pollution of lakes and rivers was one of the top two concerns for Kiwis, ahead of the likes of the state of the health system. People are demanding action on cleaning up waterways and making rivers swimmable again.

So, the good news is that we have alignment locally and globally and there is every motivation to achieve those goals. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Of course, predicting the future is notoriously difficult, and none of us know exactly how the food revolution will unfold over the next decade or two. But we can bank on a more varied source of foods than ever before, much more individual eating preferences (think flexi-vegans), total transparency and traceability of our food production systems, and a greater number of people willing to pay a premium for a special eating experience based on the provenance of the meal.

Since our first refrigerated food exports left Dunedin for Britain in 1882, through Britain’s entry into the European Union and the shift to Asia, our farmers and agri-food business have shown the adaptability that is now more important than ever. We have lived in a disruptive world for our entire existence as a country.

That same cultural DNA within our farmers, agribusiness and scientists leaves me very confident that New Zealand is well positioned to be an even more prosperous provider of safe, high quality foods to the world’s most discerning consumers.


Article first appeared here

Nicola Schreurs

New beef product could spark new industry

FoodHQ Partner Massey University is investigating whether the dairy industry has the potential to drive a new class of beef product by rearing bobby calves who would ordinarily be sent to slaughter.

The dairy industry currently needs to produce calves to maintain milk production, but while a proportion of the females are retained as herd replacements, a large number are sent for slaughter at around four-days old due to a lack of viable alternatives.

The potential new product is being labelled New Generation Beef, and is produced by rearing calves sourced from the dairy industry up to one year of age.

Project lead, Dr Nicola Schreurs of the School of Agriculture and Environment says the research has the potential to spawn a brand-new beef industry which could one day phase-out the slaughter of bobby calves.

“This new product isn’t veal or bull-beef, and we are not specifically targeting the prime steer classification but, we are developing a new, full red-meat product of its own, that could require less resource and deliver a more sustainable product”, she says.

“There is currently little incentive for the dairy farmer to rear additional calves, but there is a large amount of welfare concerns associated with the transport and slaughter of bobby calves. We think that our New Generation Beef system could help the New Zealand dairy industry achieve a ‘zero-bobbies policy’ by turning a low-value product into a high-value product. However, the concept needs validation if it is to have uptake and our research seeks to hammer out how it could work on the farm and will define what type of carcass and meat product we would be getting, as well as considering the potential markets,” Dr Schreurs says.

The initial part of the project involves a group of calves (Kiwi crossed with Hereford) managed on Massey’s farms. These calves will be slaughtered at eight, 10, 12 and 18 months of age and assessed for the meat product obtained. This data will allow the team to consider the economics required to make the system viable and the required market development for the product.

This research will involve Masters students, Sam Pike and Josh Hunt. The programme will also enrol PhD students over the next two years, to assess the environmental impact of the supply chain and specificities for processing.

“Many of the environment issues with beef production arise as a consequence of a production period of two to three years to achieve market requirements”, Dr Schreurs says. “Older animals have reduced feed-use efficiency, increased greenhouse gas emissions and a larger contribution to nitrogen leaching.

“Argentinian beef cattle are slaughtered at approximately one year of age and we think a similar system could be implemented in New Zealand with positive consequences for the environment.”

Future beef

The project will utilise the expertise of Massey’s Professor Steve Morris, Associate Professor Rebecca Hickson, Professor Paul Kenyon, Professor Hugh Blair and Professor Dorian Garrick, and is supported by the C Alma Baker Trust, and Beef + Lamb NZ Genetics.

Dr Schreurs says, in the future, more field studies will be required, including market research to see how this product would be received by consumers. In the larger research programme, the researchers hope to look at a range of dairy breeds and dairy-beef crossbreeds.

“Our goal is to one day have farmers, meat processors and marketers taking on board the concept of New Generation Beef for application into an integrated supply chain for export traded beef with sustainable returns to the beef sector. We see this innovation as a new beef product coming from a new generation of farmers, for the new generation of consumers,” Dr Schreurs says.


Article first appeared here