The Government is moving to establish university courses in measuring the carbon footprint of primary products.
Agriculture Minister David Carter said the Government was seeking proposals from universities to establish a professorship and courses in "life-cycle science".
It would provide $1.5 million over five years to kickstart the programme.
Mr Carter said overseas consumers were increasingly demanding to know the environmental impact of their food.
New Zealand fared well in international comparisons and it was important to measure and communicate that.
"Our 'clean green' image is our most valuable marketing tool, and the work carried out under this initiative will underpin that image with science."
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is seeking proposals by February 13 next year, with an announcement on the successful university in March.
The professorship will be 95 percent government-funded in the first year, reducing to 25 percent by the fifth year.
Mr Carter said from year six, the initiative would need to be self-sufficient.