Special report examines NZ's reputation as an innovative food producer

22 September 2017

When it comes to boosting immunity to illness, Australians buy berries, broccoli and other vegetables, while Chinese shop for kiwifruit, yoghurt and beef. By contrast, Japanese consumers swear by yoghurt and yoghurt drinks.

That’s one finding in a special report looking at New Zealand’s reputation as a food innovator commissioned by the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge. The research report, prepared by the Agricultural Economics and Research Unit at Lincoln University, surveyed 400 consumers in Australia, Japan and China about their attitudes and preferences towards a range of health and wellbeing claims in food and the importance of scientific testing of these claims. The study also asked 29 key players their views on consumer behaviour and trends in these markets.

Results from both surveys found that consumers in overseas markets rate health and wellbeing claims in food products important.

In particular, the consumer survey found that the claim for immunity in food products was rated most important by consumers, followed by bone and/or joint health, then memory or brain function. Baby or child health/ development was highly important to respondents from China.

Participants from the three surveyed countries associated Japan most with foods for enhancing health or wellbeing, followed by Switzerland, then Australia. New Zealand was ranked fourth (out of nine countries), interestingly Chinese participants associated New Zealand strongly with foods for enhancing health or wellbeing. Survey participants across all countries trusted scientific testing for health or wellbeing claims in food strongly if it took place in Switzerland, Australia, or Germany whereas New Zealand ranked fifth (out of nine countries), and interestingly, Australian participants highly trusted health and wellbeing claims in food products if they would be scientifically validated in New Zealand.

The key players thought New Zealand’s reputation was more about open spaces and a clean environment than scientific integrity and innovation which has been validated by other research.

Challenge Director Joanne Todd says, “This study show that if New Zealand is to promote high-value nutrition products, we may need to pay equal attention to promoting the scientific integrity of research conducted here.”

High Value Nutrition has also released two further reports, the latest in its Measuring what counts and a deep dive into the behaviour of Asian consumers in its Consumer Insights series.

These reports have been released in draft, but once finalised will add to the market intelligence and research reports in the Challenge’s resource hub The Knowledge.


For media inquiries, Gilbert Wong, gilbert.wong@auckland.ac.nz

Consumer insights: The Chinese consumer
A continuing series from High-Value Nutrition (2.0 MB, PDF)
Measuring what counts 2016
A continuing series from High-Value Nutrition (670.0 kB, PDF)