Govt invests in sustainable food producer

The development of sustainable, plant-based foods and meat alternatives is getting new government backing, with investment from a dedicated regional economic development fund.

The investment in Sustainable Foods Ltd  is part of a wider government strategy to develop a low-emissions, highly-skilled economy that responds to global demands, Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash said.

Sustainable Foods Ltd was leading the charge to promote sustainability in the food and beverage market with its field-to-plate approach through its brand plan*t, he said. 

The Kāpiti business will receive a loan of up to $1.25 million from the Regional Strategic Partnership Fund (RSPF). Continue reading

Entries are opened for the 2022 New Zealand Food Awards

Entries opened today for the 2022 New Zealand Food Awards and close on 31 May. The awards will be announced at a gala dinner in Palmerston North in October.

Massey University is the principal sponsor and owner of the awards, which have celebrated New Zealand’s food and beverage manufacturers, focusing on innovation and excellence, since 1987.

The awards are open to small and large food and beverage manufacturers, primary food producers, food service providers and ingredient supply companies. This year, the awards will continue to build on the “Food Hero” theme, developed during the 2020 lockdown to celebrate the way Kiwi companies are responding and reacting to the global pandemic.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the standard of entries each year is outstanding, and the calibre of previous winners is testament to that. Continue reading

APEC economies commit to a 10-year food security roadmap

The implications for ag/hort scientists were still being studied , when AgScience posted this news.

But it involves food production and food security, so our expertise is bound to be required.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor made the announcement.

Agriculture and food ministers from APEC economies have committed to delivering a new roadmap to guide efforts to boost food security over the next ten years, he said.

The commitment was made at the virtual Food Security Ministerial Meeting which Mr O’Connor hosted as part of New Zealand’s hosting of APEC 2021.

“Ensuring the world has a consistent supply of food is one of the biggest challenges facing APEC economies and the rest of the world, particularly as we recover from COVID-19,” Damien O’Connor said. Continue reading

Research finds meat consumers prefer local products

The country of origin is the number one characteristic consumers use when choosing meat, and they mostly prefer their own local products, a new Lincoln University study shows.

This emphasis on locally grown meat has been identified in new research* by Dr Nic Lees and Joshua Aboah.

Dr Lees said the results had significant implications for New Zealand meat exporters, because in many markets New Zealand is competing with local products.

“In these countries we need to provide consumers with a reason to choose our products rather than their locally produced beef or lamb.

“Traditionally we have been able to compete by selling at a lower price.”

While the research showed that price is an important factor, there were other areas New Zealand could focus on to compete.

For example, Dr Lees said, the fourth most important factor for consumers was the type of production system.

“New Zealand has an advantage here because of our natural, grass-fed farming systems.

“There is an opportunity to take greater advantage of this, however this requires communicating these attributes directly to consumers.”

The research aimed to determine the most important indicators of quality that consumers use in their purchasing decisions and analysed the results of 47 recent research articles on the topic.

There were some exceptions to the “local products first” finding in countries where consumers have no confidence in their own food safety standards, such as China and Brazil.

*Consumers use of quality cues for meat purchase: Research trends and future pathways

Source:  Lincoln University  

Govt funds initiatives to connect Kiwis to affordable, healthy food

Funding for innovative projects to connect Kiwis with affordable, safe and wholesome food, reduce food waste, and help the country’s food producers recover from COVID-19 was announced today by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

COVID-19 has resulted in an increasing number of families facing unprecedented financial pressure, Mr O’Connor said.

Foodbanks and community food service providers were reporting two or three times their usual demand.

But food supply chains had been disrupted,  making it difficult for some New Zealander’s to access to affordable and healthy food and risking significant food waste. Continue reading

Massey’s food innovation legacy celebrated in ‘NZ Food Heroes’

Massey University’s commitment to the food sector as a long-standing leader of research and education excellence in food science, product development, and food health and safety, has inspired a twist on this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

Due to the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards this year have shifted from their usual programme, which would have opened for entries on May 1, to generating a community-focussed celebration of innovators across all sectors of the food and beverage industry.

Food has been a huge preoccupation for most in lockdown.  And in light of this new appreciation for the variety and quality of local food in a time of crisis, the New Zealand Food Awards –  powered by Massey University – want to celebrate the people who make it all happen. Continue reading

Relying on ‘local food’ is a distant dream for most of the world

A recent study shows that less than one-third of the world’s population could meet their demand for food produced in their local vicinity, Aalto University reports.

Globalisation has revolutionised food production and consumption in recent decades and cultivation has become more efficient As a result, diets have diversified and food availability has increased in various parts of the globe.

But  it has also led to a majority of the world population living in countries that are dependent on, at least partially, imported food. This can intensify vulnerabilities during any kind of global crisis, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, as global food supply chains are disrupted.

Aalto University dissertation researcher, Pekka Kinnunen, says:

“There are big differences between different areas and the local foliage. For example, in Europe and North America, temperate crops, such as wheat, can be obtained mostly within a radius of 500 kilometres. In comparison, the global average is about 3,800 kilometres.” Continue reading

NZ Food Awards showcases the future of food

Allergen-aware foods, vegan-friendly, hemp-based products, and gin and vodka handcrafted from sheep milk are among the finalists of this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

The finalists include several winners from previous years – Barker’s of Geraldine, Blue Frog Breakfast and The Pure Food Co – as well as new products including goat sausages and freeze-dried manuka honey.

Sixty individual products from 48 companies are finalists in 10 categories and one category winner will be named the Massey University Supreme Award winner at the Gala Dinner in Auckland on October 23.

The awards have celebrated New Zealand manufactured products, focusing on innovation and excellence since 1987. Sponsored by the University, they are open to small and large food and beverage manufacturers, primary food producers, food service providers and ingredient supply companies.

Last year’s supreme award winner was The Whole Mix Co. Limited for its vegetable noodle range. The company, owned by Marton-based Spiers Foods, also won the Massey University Health and Wellbeing Award, and the James & Wells Business Innovation Award.

Massey Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the university’s connection to the New Zealand food industry dates back to its inception as an agricultural college, in 1927, and its patronage of the New Zealand Food Awards dates back to the awards’ inception 60 years later.

The New Zealand Food Awards expert judging panel includes celebrity judges Bite magazine’s Ray McVinnie, chef Geoff Scott and World Kitchen television host and chef Nici Wickes. 

For more information, please visit

The 2019 finalists are named here.

Source:  Massey University

Conference to consider what happens if we run out of food

The security and safety of food systems are in danger from a host of threats including climate change, urbanisation, globalisation and the ongoing degradation of natural resources. But reliable food systems are critical to our way of life.

The Asia Pacific Centre for Food Integrity will examine and debate these issues at its annual conference, Food Integrity 2019 – Food Safety vs Food Security, in Auckland on July 30-31.

Dr Geoff Allen, chief executive of Asia Pacific Centre for Food Integrity, says the format chosen for this year’s conference challenges speakers to pick a side – food safety or food security.

“We want to know if they think it’s more important that our food is safe to consume, or that there’s enough to feed the planet, and if these positions are mutually exclusive,” he says.

“So many conferences on food security do not include people who are working in food safety. So many conferences on food safety have no representation of consumers, nor interest in how the actions of food safety enthusiasts may impact on the amount of available food, or the amount of food waste, or the amount of plastic packaging. 

“In short, the food system is comprised of many parts – rarely do all of these parts come together to ask how they can collaborate or how they can work together.”  

Food Integrity 2019 will feature over 30 industry experts from around the globe in a series of keynote and rapid-fire sessions debating how we ensure our food is safe and plentiful.

Keynote speakers include renowned expert in food fraud and agro-terrorism, Shaun Kennedy, who will speak on advances in detection and prevention of deliberate adulteration of the food supply chain. Drawing on his extensive experience in the US, working with players across the food supply chain, Kennedy has an interest in food ecosystems and in the interface between human health, wildlife and the environment. Kennedy will draw on his research into food system vulnerabilities to present current US initiatives and interventions.

Joining the debate is Marc Smith, CEO NodeXL. Smith is a US sociologist specialising in the social organisation of online communities and computer mediated interaction. Smith leads the Connected Action consulting group and lives and works in Silicon Valley, California. He is a co-founder of the Social Media Research Foundation which is dedicated to Open Tools, Open Data, and Open Scholarship related to social media. He will be talking about how food can be made safer and more secure through collective action.

Also speaking are Katherine Rich – CEO, NZ Food and Grocery Council, Suzanne Snively ONZM – Chair, Transparency International New Zealand, Ash Whitaker – Co-founder of Cardrona Distillery and a host of industry experts in field including food systems, exporting, data science, food waste and many more.

Source:  Asia Pacific Centre for Food Integrity


Consumers to know country of origin for food under new law

A Bill that allows consumers to know where food products come from passed in Parliament  last night, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi says.

The Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill introduces mandatory labelling to provide information about the country of origin of foods.

“This labelling scheme enables consumers to make more informed decisions at the supermarket, by telling them where their food comes from,” Mr Faafoi says. “New Zealand consumers want to be well informed so we’re pleased to have been able to make this Bill proceed.

“Some members of the food industry have also been asking for country of origin labelling, which helps them to fairly identify foods produced in New Zealand and levels the playing field for producers.”

Foods covered under the Bill include fresh or frozen fruit, vegetables, fish, seafood and meat including cured pork products such as ham and bacon.

Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor says the scheme has been designed to be easy and cheap to set up and run.

“That’s why the requirements apply only to foods with one ingredient and that are fresh, frozen, unprocessed or minimally processed – for example, cut, filleted or minced meat.

“However, the Bill has to be useful for the industry into the future so allows for the extension of country of origin labelling to other foods if needed at some later stage,” Mr O’Connor says.

Mr Faafoi says he will be consulting further on how to implement the new requirements and whether any foods need to be added or excluded. The Bill requires the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to make regulations within 18 months.

“The Government wants to make sure that country of origin labelling provides useful information for consumers and is workable for the food industry.”

The Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill is a Member’s bill that was first introduced by former MP Steffan Browning in 2016, and later adopted by Green MP Gareth Hughes.

Source:  Ministers of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and Food Safety