$3m in new projects for High-Value Nutrition

  • Steven Joyce
Science and Innovation

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge is investing $3 million in its Consumer Insights and Science of Food research programmes.

“The research into high-value nutrition is hugely important in moving our food production from volume to value”, Mr Joyce says.  “These projects will help product development that brings maximum returns for New Zealand food exporters.”

The Consumer Insights research programme is focused on understanding consumers’ beliefs, perceptions, attitudes and behaviours.

“Up to $1.5 million has been allocated to research the science of consumers, with a focus on health and wellness needs of Asian consumers. It will research what is needed to establish a habitual consumption of high-value nutritional foods, which is vital in ensuring investment is directed in areas that will resonate most with consumers.

“The completed first phase of this work studied the information currently available to New Zealand businesses, and their knowledge gaps in understanding consumers’ needs and behaviours.”

This programme will provide direction to clinical research supporting the development of high-value foods and beverages for Asian markets. Companies will also get better information on how to market their products to demonstrate how they meet the needs of consumers.

“The Science of Food research programme will also receive $1.5 million to address the technological challenges in protecting the health promoting compounds (‘bioactives’) in food during the journey from raw ingredients to finished food products, through to digestion,” Mr Joyce says.

The team will design ingredients and processes that keep those bioactives in top condition within food products, so that when eaten, the bioactives are released to the body at the right stage of digestion needed to deliver their identified health benefits.

The Consumer Insights research programme is led by Dr Roger Harker of Plant and Food Research, and is a collaboration between Plant and Food Research, the University of Auckland, the University of Otago, Price Waterhouse Coopers and Trace Research.

The Science of Food research programme is led by Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh, co-Director of the Riddet Institute at Massey University, and involves experts from Massey University, the University of Otago, the Cawthron Institute, AgResearch and the Israel Institute of Technology.