How plant-based beverages stack up on cost and nutritional benefits against cow’s milk

Plant-based beverages are expensive and provide only a small fraction of the nutritional goodness of cow’s milk, according to a new study.

The study, published in Frontiers in Nutrition, assessed the nutritional profiles of a range of plant-based beverages, such as soy, oat, coconut, almond or rice drinks, and compared them to standard bovine milk. Researchers collected 103 plant-based products from supermarkets in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

The drinks were found to have much lower quantities of the 20 nutrients measured, such as calcium and protein, and were significantly more costly than cow’s milk.

The study was carried out by Riddet Institute scientists, from Massey University in Palmerston North. The Riddet Institute is a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) hosted by Massey University, which focuses on fundamental and advanced food research.

One of the study’s authors, Riddet Institute Professor of Nutritional Sciences Warren McNabb, says plant-based beverages were often marketed as alternatives to ruminant milks such as cow’s milk, and consumers could easily believe they were nutritionally interchangeable. Continue reading

Massey scientists are cream of the crop at international dairy award

Riddet Institute scientists from Massey University’s Manawatū campus have won half of the top prizes in an inaugural International Dairy Federation award.

Riddet Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Debashree Roy came second equal, and Research Officer Dr Nick Smith was third in the International Dairy Federation (IDF) Professor Pavel Jelen Early Career Scientist Prize.

The winners, announced this week, will receive their prizes at the IDF World Dairy Summit, to be held in India in September.

Dr Roy was second equal for her entry titled Composition, structure, and dynamic digestion behaviour of milk from different species. Her entry focused on her research about how milk composition and structure impact the release of nutrients at various stages of gastric digestion of different mammalian milks such as cow, goat, and sheep milks. Continue reading

New research highlights differences in New Zealand beef

Pasture-raised beef is a cornerstone of the New Zealand meat industry. But do we really understand the benefits we get from the meat when it is raised this way?


New research from the Riddet Institute indicates there are differences in meat quality relating to health and digestion, depending on how the animal is raised.

A research team led by Dr Lovedeep Kaur and Dr Mike Boland s from Massey University’s Manawatū campus compared the digestion differences between pasture-raised New Zealand beef to grain finished beef, and a plant-based alternative.

To mimic the human digestive tract, researchers used simulators in the laboratory to observe the differences.

They found differences in the fat content of the beef, potentially leading to better health outcomes. Continue reading

Damson plums to be assessed for compounds with potential health benefits

A development grant for $50,000 has been awarded by the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge to Foot Steps Limited in Karamu, Hastings. The grant will support a six-month project to explore the bioactive compounds of Damson plums to better understand the relationship between the plums and potential health benefits.

Even though food has long been used to improve health, more recent knowledge about the relationship between high-value foods and health benefits is driving advancement in this area.

The project will be conducted through close collaboration with the Riddet Institute Centre of Research Excellence at Massey University in Palmerston North.

Damson plums are a type of plum with a deeper purple colour (more like blueberries).

They have great potential to be considered as a high-value food, or as a functional ingredient, that can be used in food products developed for particular health benefits. Continue reading

Research grant awarded to investigate high-value products made using hemp seed oil by-products

Greenfern Industries, a Taranaki-based medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp venture, is part of a group that will investigate ways to turn hemp seed hulls into high-value products destined for the global export market.

The partnership has been awarded $145,000 in cash and in-kind funding for research into products created from the by-products of hemp seed oil processing.

Greenfern will work alongside industry partners Callaghan Innovation and Hemp Connect as part of the project funded by the Bioresource Processing Alliance (BPA), which, in turn, is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. BPA invests in research and development projects with the aim of generating additional export revenue for New Zealand by working with the primary sector to get better value out of biological by-products.

Greenfern’s industrial hemp is currently grown in Central Otago and Taranaki and the company has plans to expand hemp seed farming to double its crops this year. Continue reading

NZ scientists lead the charge to explore benefits of pasture-raised beef and lamb

New Zealanders will be invited to take part in a major research programme to assess the health and well-being benefits of eating pasture-raised beef and lamb, compared to grain-finished beef and plantbased alternatives.

About 100 people will be monitored in two ground-breaking clinical studies, led by researchers from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland.

The projects will assess the physical effects on the body from eating the different foods for up to 10 weeks, as well as psychological elements, such as satisfaction, sleep and stress levels.

The research team includes meat scientists, agricultural academics, dietitians, behavioural experts and social scientists.

Sirma Karapeeva, Meat Industry Association Chief Executive, says he is excited by the programme of research being undertaken by Meat Industry Association’s Innovation arm.

She said much of the global research on the health, nutritional and environmental aspects of red meat was based on intensive grain-finished farming systems. Continue reading

Leader of world’s best agri-food university visiting New Zealand

The Riddet Institute will host the President of the world’s leading Agri-Food University, Professor Louise O. Fresco, during her visit to New Zealand this  week.

Professor Fresco, from Wageningen University and Research, is in this country from December 3-7.  She will meet with thought leaders, primary industries and key research partners.

The Riddet Institute will be hosting a summit at Te Papa in Wellington on Thursday where Professor Fresco will be the keynote speaker.  The summit will address the challenges of food production and nutrition that must be tackled to sustainably feed an ever-growing world population.   It will also address the impact of this on the New Zealand economy and primary industries.

Professor Fresco and other strategic leaders in the areas of food economics, research and production will speak on this theme from a global perspective and the implications for New Zealand as a food producing nation.

Riddet Institute director and Massey University Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh says the visit is a highlight of the year.

“We are extremely proud and honoured to host Professor Fresco. This visit is another important milestone in the continuing relationship between Wageningen University, the Riddet Institute and Massey University,” says Professor Singh.

The Riddet Institute and Massey University have a special relationship with Wageningen University, a collaboration that goes back over 30 years. Over that shared history, there have been many collaborative projects, along with staff and student exchanges.

During her visit, Professor Fresco will spend time at Massey University, where she will meet with the University leadership team, as well as key academics.

Wageningen University is celebrating its centenary this year and during this visit special events will be held to commemorate the anniversary.  Massey University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas and Professor Fresco, will plant a special UniversiTREE to symbolise the continuing relationship between Wageningen University and Massey’s Manawatū campus. The iplanting will form part of a “virtual forest” of trees that Wageningen has planted with other collaborating institutions around the world this year.

There will also be events where the Wageningen delegation meets past and present academic, post-doctoral and postgraduate staff including a special event at the Netherlands’ Embassy in Wellington on Friday, December 7.

Professor Fresco, a high-profile leader in the Agri-Food sector globally,  is a highly recognised academic, has her own TV programme, has written several best-selling books on her research and has given many lectures on the subject of feeding the world, including a TED Talk. She has a long academic career at both Wageningen and Amsterdam Universities, with extensive involvement in policy and development programmes.

Professor Fresco is a member of eight Scientific Academies and for 10 years was Assistant-Director General at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN. She has also served on the boards of companies including Rabobank and Unilever.

This week she also will meet with a variety of industry and government representatives including Dr Megan Woods (Minister for Research, Science & Innovation), David Parker (Minister for Economic Development), the Global Women Showcase Dinner in Auckland and a public lecture at the Beehive hosted by Damien O’Connor (Minister for Agriculture, Trade and Export Growth, Biosecurity & Food Safety).

Source:  Riddet Institute

Massey professor becomes first NZ recipient of international dairy award

Massey University Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh has become the first New Zealander to receive the 2018 American Dairy Science Association Distinguished Service Award.

The Riddet Institute director received the award during a ceremony at the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) annual meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee. The award recognises unusually outstanding and consistent contributions to the welfare of the dairy industry.

Professor Singh is a world-renowned food scientist and a major figure in the development of dairy science research.

His contributions to dairy science in the United States have been recognised previously by ADSA through other prestigious awards – the International Dairy Foods Association Research Award in Dairy Foods in 2015 and the Marschall Rhodia International Dairy Science Award in 2001. In 2008, he was awarded the William Haines Dairy Science Award by the California Dairy Research Foundation.

Professor Singh’s research has had a major international impact, both in the dairy industry and academic community.

He has published more than 350 peer-reviewed papers in international journals and has mentored over 60 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. He has also shown great skill as a leader, both in his role leading Riddet Institute, but also heading the School of Food and Nutrition, and the Massey Institute of Food Science and Technology from 2015-17.

Source: Massey University

Leadership change: co-director to take the reins of Riddet Institute



Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh … to be sole director of the Riddet Institute.

Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan is stepping down as co-director of the Riddet Institute and Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh will be sole director.

The institute was established at Massey University in 2003 by Professor Singh and Professor Moughan. Under their leadership the institute was selected as a New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) in 2008 and is now one of the leading food research centres in the world.

It has secured millions of dollars in research funding from the New Zealand and international food industry for innovative food science and technology programmes.

In 2012, Professor Singh and Professor Moughan were jointly awarded the Prime Minister’s Science Prize of $500,000, New Zealand’s most valuable award for scientific achievement.

Professor Moughan will no longer be co-director but remains active in the Institute as one of the Principal Investigators. He will also assume the role of Riddet Institute Fellow Laureate in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Institute and to food research in New Zealand.

Professor Singh’s research has focused on food colloids, food ingredient functionality, functional foods and food structure-nutrition interface. He has published more than 350 research papers in international journals, has been a co-inventor of 12 patented products/innovations, and has given more than 150 keynote address at international conferences.

In 2013, he was made a Distinguished Professor, the highest academic title the University offers and is normally bestowed on up to 15 professors who have achieved ‘outstanding international eminence in their fields’.

He has also shown great skill as a leader in the scientific community, both in leading Riddet, but also heading the School of Food and Nutrition, and the Institute of Food Science and Technology from 2015-17.

He has been instrumental in brokering important relationships with industry and bringing the best talent to the Centre, such as the recent appointment of Fonterra-Riddet chair in sensory and consumer science.

Another highly significant deal has been the establishment of the AgResearch-Massey University Food Science Facility, with an initial investment of $45 million on the Manawatū campus.

Professor Singh has also been instrumental in bringing the world’s best international minds to our shores, including many sabbatical visitors and last year’s International Symposium on the Delivery of Functionality in Complex Food Systems – the first time this high-profile conference was been held in the Southern Hemisphere.

His international standing and outstanding contributions to food science have been recognised by several prestigious awards: the William Haines Dairy Science Award (USA), the Marschall Rhodia International Dairy Science Award (USA), Massey University Research Medal, JC Andrews Award, the Shorland Medal, International Dairy Foods Association Research Award in Dairy Foods (USA). He is an Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, the International Academy of Food Science and Technology, Elected Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology, and Elected Fellow of the United States Institute of Food Technologists.

Source: Massey University

Growing scientific evidence demonstrates the health benefits of kiwifruit

The latest research into the benefits of kiwifruit for human health has been presented in Tauranga at the first-ever International Symposium on Kiwifruit and Health.

The symposium brought together nearly 200 global health experts to consider the role of fruit, in particular kiwifruit, in a healthy diet. The event was initiated by the Riddet Institute and sponsored by Zespri.

The most recent studies and the research underway into the health benefits of kiwifruit within the areas of digestive health, health and vitamin C, and metabolic health were presented.

Among key findings:

• Kiwifruit regulates sugar highs and lows in your blood stream.

• New results from human clinical trials reinforce that Zespri Green Kiwifruit improves digestive health function and comfort. This is due to its unique combination of actinidin (a kiwifruit enzyme), fibre and other components.

• Kiwifruit boosts your immunity. Eating kiwifruit daily is very effective at increasing blood levels of vitamin C as well as levels in other parts of the body.

The keynote speaker, Professor Jacob Seidell, from Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, is the Netherlands’ foremost obesity specialist.

He said:

“Today, there is general consensus that for much of the world, nutrient-poor food is a key driver in escalating rates of obesity and related chronic disease. Improved health outcomes are associated with diets high in nutrient-rich, low energy-dense fruit – such as kiwifruit.”

Reflecting on the Symposium, Dr Juliet Ansell, Zespri’s Innovation Leader for Health and Nutrition, described the findings as great news for Zespri consumers.

“We know that the more people hear about the health benefits of kiwifruit the more they consume, and this week we have heard exciting research results from new scientific studies,” says Dr Ansell.

Among the highlights of this symposium was the finding by Dr John Monro from Plant & Food Research on the glycaemic impact of kiwifruit, which shows that kiwifruit helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Delegates also were presented with results from Zespri’s New Zealand arm of a new global clinical trial, which shows that eating two green kiwifruit a day significantly improves bowel function.

Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan, Co-director of the Riddet Institute, said this was the first time anywhere in the world that so much expertise on kiwifruit and health science had been brought together in one place.