FoodHQ is a formal partnership between AgResearch, Fonterra, Massey University, ESR, Plant & Food Research, Cawthron Institute, the Riddet Institute and the BCC. It is supported by the Manawatū District and Palmerston North City councils. FoodHQ was officially launched on July 29, 2013 at Massey University by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce, who was joined by Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye.

It marked the beginning of a pioneering new phase of collaboration and integrative planning between the partners.

With over 2200 researchers and educators involved in the agri-food value chain, together with many more support staff based on the Palmerston North campus, this globally significant centre for agri-food science and innovation supports New Zealand’s industries and the development of its future leaders. The partnership is undoubtedly the centre of New Zealand’s innovation from the land through to the consumer.

To mark our achievements and successes in strengthening the nation’s food and beverage innovation capacity, the partners have established FoodHQ with a 20-year planning horizon. The partner’s mid-term goal for FoodHQ to rank among the top five food innovation centres in the world, both in terms of economic and social impact.

Massey University

Massey University began as an agricultural college in Palmerston North. From 1879, strong political support existed for an agricultural college in the North Island of New Zealand. Massey is named after former Prime Minister William Ferguson Massey who announced the establishment of an agricultural college in the North Island as a priority in his inaugural speech in 1912. In 1923, Victoria University College in Wellington founded a Chair of Agriculture with money donated by Walter Buchanan. A year later, Auckland University College created a School of Agriculture. In February 1926, Victoria University College and Auckland University Colleges relinquished their respective schools of agriculture. The schools combined under the New Zealand Agricultural College Act 1926. The College was renamed Massey Agricultural College in 1927 in honour of William Ferguson Massey. The college officially opened on 20 March 1928 as a fully constituent college of the University of New Zealand.

Massey University College of Manawatu became Massey University of Manawatu on 1 January 1964 under the Massey University of Manawatu Act 1963. The new university had full autonomy and degree-conferring powers under the Act. The name was shortened in 1966 to Massey University.

On 20 March 1993, Massey University’s Albany campus in Auckland was officially inaugurated with a tree-planting ceremony. Massey University extended its reach to Wellington when it merged with the Wellington Polytechnic on 1 July 1999 to establish the College of Design, Fine Arts and Music (now the College of Creative Arts).


New Zealand’s dairy industry started in 1814 with the first cattle imported by early European settlers. By 1846, just six years after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, the first exports began. The first dairy co-operative was created in Otago in 1871 – the first of more than 400 co-ops to be established throughout New Zealand.

Refrigeration in 1882 opened new markets to New Zealand’s agriculture industry and, as a result, substantial trade to the United Kingdom developed, with the UK becoming our largest export market until the 1970s.

Many different kinds of dairy products exported to a huge range of markets since then have changed the landscape of the industry, which eventually included major consolidation. By the end of 2000, more than 95% of the industry was represented by just two dairy companies – the New Zealand Dairy Group (NZDG) and Kiwi Co-operative Dairies. Two smaller co-operatives held the remaining 5%. In 2001, Fonterra was formed to represent the interests of about 95 per cent of New Zealand’s dairy farmers – its shareholders.

Today, Fonterra exports high quality products to more than 100 countries around the globe. Fonterra is the world’s largest dairy exporter.

Crown Research Institutes

Professional scientific research to aid agriculture and horticulture in New Zealand dates back to 1926 when the Department of Industrial Science and Research (DSIR) formed after pressure from scientists – including the celebrated Lord Rutherford. Two years later, DSIR joined with the Department of Agriculture in establishing a Plant Research Station. In 1936 the Plant Research Station was transferred entirely to the DSIR and the DSIR began doing its own research rather than coordinating other institutions.

On 1 July 1992, 10 Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) were established out of former government departments including the Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand (HortResearch), the New Zealand Institute for Crop and Food Research (Crop & Food Research) and the New Zealand Pastoral Agriculture Research Institute (AgResearch).

On 1 December 2008, Plant & Food Research formed following the merger of former CRIs HortResearch and Crop & Food Research.

Riddet Institute

The Riddet Institute was established in 2003 at Massey University, Palmerston North. It was accorded Centre of Research Excellence status in 2007 by the New Zealand government.

The institute is one of eight government-funded New Zealand Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs) and the only one devoted to food research and development. A CoRE is a formal collaborative model hosted by a university and the Riddet Institute brings together leading scientists from Massey University (host institution), University of Otago, The University of Auckland, and the two largest Crown research institutes: AgResearch and Plant & Food Research.

The institute thus unites leading scientists and key elements of New Zealand’s resources in food and related sciences and is a catalyst for innovation to create sustained competitive advantage for New Zealand. New Zealand’s food industry is the country’s most significant economic sector, accounting for over half of export earnings. The Riddet Institute’s prime goal is to fortify the New Zealand food industry with true scientific excellence.

The institute is governed by a Board of Directors and managed by two co-directors, Distinguished Professors Paul Moughan and Harjinder Singh, supported by an executive team. Scientific staff are located in the Palmerston North, New Zealand headquarters and in various partners institutions both within New Zealand and overseas.


BCC was launched in 2006 and has resided in The Old Dairy Factory ever since.

Built in 1928 as a dairy factory for the newly created Massey Agricultural College (today known as Massey University) and Dairy Research Institute, the design reflects the influence of the Chicago School of Architecture. Architect Roy Alston Lippincott also designed the old main building and refectory of the agricultural college.

This dairy factory has been the home of internationally recognised innovation in research in dairy science and the dairy manufacturing industry. Highlights include the isolation of bacteriophages in New Zealand cheese starters in 1953 and in 1950 the vacuum pasteurization of cream. During World War II the factory processed milk for the Palmerston North “Milk in Schools” scheme and handled the production of milk fat for the armed forces. The factory continued to be used as a training and research facility for Massey University students in dairy technology until the late 1960s.

In 1992 a major renovation programme rescued the neglected building and won a New Zealand Institute of Architecture award. The award cited the sympathetic renovation, enabling its important cultural heritage values to be protected into the future. The old dairy factory is registered as a Category 1 historic place in recognition of its significant cultural and historical values and the important contribution this building has made to the national and international development of New Zealand’s dairy industry.