New Zealand enabling value creation through science and innovation in emerging proteins
Whāia te pae tawhiti kia tata mai – Pursue the vision beyond the horizon and bring it closer so it is realised The future of food will no doubt include a variety of delicious (and probably some not so delicious) protein-rich foods offering consumers more choice than ever before. New Zealand is poised to meet
Whāia te pae tawhiti kia tata mai – Pursue the vision beyond the horizon and bring it closer so it is realised
The future of food will no doubt include a variety of delicious (and probably some not so delicious) protein-rich foods offering consumers more choice than ever before. New Zealand is poised to meet the anticipated demand with new research and innovations in emerging proteins.
NZ has traditionally been strong in producing animal-based protein ingredients and food with a proud global reputation for providing products that are safe, tasty, and nutritious. This has been achieved through robust regulatory processes, scientific excellence, fearless innovation, and a healthy dose of provenance. Now using those same pillars, the NZ food industry is developing a wide range of food products from emerging protein sources including plant, cell based, and insect.
A few examples of cutting-edge innovation occurring within the NZ food sector (all involving premier research organisation The Riddet Institute and their collaborators) are outlined below.
New Zealand explores consumer responses to emerging proteins
NZ and Singaporean researchers will examine consumer response to emerging protein-based foods, within the global context of increasing interest in plant-based diets to optimise health and improve environmental sustainability. The research aims to understand the contradiction of today’s discerning consumers expressing a desire to adjust their food choices to sustainable diets and lifestyles, yet many not making this transition in a meaningful way. The project is vital to ensure technological and product innovations in the alternative protein sector are targeted towards products and ingredients that will both engage and delight consumers.
The best of both worlds using a new technology
A new approach to producing protein rich food products has been developed that opens up new opportunities for flexitarians. The technology enables utilisation of less refined low-value dairy or meat streams as well as plant protein sources and can accommodate a higher fat content which gives improved flavour and mouthfeel. The hybrid products provide consumers with an option to include more plant proteins in their diet while retaining the nutrition and sensory attributes of animal proteins. This project is coming to the end of its initial development phase, and is now looking to engage with partners to bring it to a supermarket shelf near you.
The potential for hybrid products in cellular agriculture
Another interesting project is seeking to understand the interactions between plant-based protein and cellular agriculture, including those produced by culturing animal cells in fermenters (termed cellular agriculture). It is expected that new hybrid foods will also emerge, offering increased consumer choice. The new project will build on existing research in the area, exploring the interactions between plant proteins (soya bean and pea) and cultured animal cells, since this is central to developing successful hybrid foods. The results of this project are essential to inform regulatory bodies and policymakers about safety and efficacy and will provide New Zealand industry with the scientific understanding of this new transformational technology.
Emerging proteins is the inclusive term used in NZ to encompass a wide range of protein sources, including plant, hybrid, fungi, insect, bacterial and cell-culture. NZ has the 9th longest in the world (15,000 km /9,300 mi) yet is home to plant-based fish company Sea Swell; a testament to the power and momentum behind emerging proteins. Sea Swell will feature in the Foodvalley Protein Summit Plant Based Seafood Table that FoodHQ’s Amos Palfreyman will moderate. For more information on any of the projects mentioned here, please contact FoodHQ and we will introduce you to the relevant researchers.