NZ food research goes global

A consortium of food research and development organisations plans to establish an international brand to market New Zealand expertise to the world.

The project, called Food Innovation New Zealand (FINZ), has been signed by Massey University, AgResearch, Fonterra, Plant & Food Research (formerly HortResearch and Crop and Food Research), the Riddet Institute and the BioCommerce Centre, all of them with operations in Palmerston North.

The brand will be formally launched in July.

Former cabinet minister and Massey University vice-chancellor Steve Maharey is chairman of the steering committee.

“Collaboration between the six founding partner organisations has helped grow the industry’s reputation for providing New Zealand government and worldwide private sector clients with world-class food research services and capability,” he says.

PepsiCo is one multinational drinks and food company that is already assessing Palmerston North as a research centre after a decision to outsource much of its innovation strategy.

Food Innovation NZ will aim to:

• provide one point of contact for potential global research customers;

• formalise the existing collaboration between the partners;

• bring teams together from across the partner organisations to meet customer needs;

• consolidate the partner organisations’ global marketing efforts where appropriate; and

• help upskill New Zealand’s food science experts through new career and research opportunities here and abroad.

Mr Maharey says the world leader for this type of agri-food collaboration is Food Valley, based in Wageningen, the Netherlands. It combines private sector, state research and academic food science experts from throughout that country and beyond.

“We would like to be recognised as the southern hemisphere’s equivalent of Food Valley with a hub in the Manawatu but drawing on all of New Zealand’s expertise,” Mr Maharey says.

Some FINZ members already have ties with Food Valley and the new initiative aims to build on existing relationships.

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