The High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge has today announced a $3.5 million research investment funding for two Research Programmes, which are in addition to the four programmes previously announced in June. The new programmes will foster strong science and business collaborations, and will each receive research investment over the next five years as part of the second phase of the Challenge.

In phase one of the Challenge, the Science of Food programme of work included the development of foods that incorporate bioactives into palatable foods. The role of the Science of Food programme is to provide guidance and support to develop novel food solutions. The new programme will build on the capabilities developed in phase one, and together with industry partners focus on designing and developing foods that have validated health benefits, that consumers want, and that industry can manufacture and take to market.

“By collaborating with NUKU ki te PukuTM, a cluster of innovative Māori businesses, we co-developed a high-value nutrition bar that was tested for health benefits under the Metabolic Health Platform, targeted to pre-diabetic consumers in China,” says Principal Investigator, Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh from the Riddet Institute.

“This relationship afforded us not only the opportunity to provide technical guidance and capability to the cluster in the development of its trial product, but also allowed us to support the development of best-practice guidance for Māori Small to Medium Enterprises translating mātauranga Māori and Māori values into their food innovation business models.” he says.

The Consumer Insights programme of research, led by Dr Denise Conroy, Plant & Food Research, will build on the work done in phase one, which established an in-depth understanding of Chinese consumer needs though interviews and surveys. Insights were shared with industry through targeted workshops, which culminated in the development of innovation plans. In phase 2, science will focus on consumers’ choices of High-Value Nutrition foods in the Chinese environment, and how rapidly consumer beliefs, attitudes and perceptions are changing.

“This is critical to the ability of High-Value Nutrition and New Zealand companies to predict and create foods that are unique to New Zealand and are of high-value for the future,” says Joanne Todd, Challenge Director. “The Challenge also offers us a unique opportunity to gain consumer insights from participants in our clinical trials, which will provide valuable feedback to our industry partners on product perceptions and usage,” she says.

“China is one of New Zealand’s biggest export markets, and understanding what Chinese consumers want and need from their food is key to developing new products with maximum appeal. This research will help us learn more and apply those findings in a New Zealand context to develop new foods for export, ” says Principal Investigator, Dr Denise Conroy.

An online survey was undertaken in phase one of the Consumer Insights Research Programme, which  aimed to quantify Chinese consumers’ beliefs, attitudes and perceptions regarding the role of food in maintaining health and wellness. This followed a well-recognised approach in which quantitative data was gathered to support insights uncovered during the in-home interviews and focus groups conducted in 2018.

The survey results showed a definitive opportunity for New Zealand high-value nutrition foods, and the Challenge is now focusing on those areas that were identified as of most importance to those consumers who are well and have a high interest in food and health.

“High-Value Nutrition will use consumer insights gained from this research to model which foods may provide the best value and potential economic return by targeting those customers who may be willing to change behaviours and spend money on high-value food and beverage products,” she says.

Please refer to the attached Programme Summary documents for more information about the High-Value Nutrition Science of Food and Consumer Insights research programmes.

Read more about the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge announcement of $22.4M investment for health research dated 23 June 2019 here: