When the Challenge closes in June, how will industry navigate the publicly-funded system?

HVN Industry Advisory Panel Chair, Craig Armstrong, led a panel from across the F&B, science, innovation and funding landscape to discuss the ecosystem of support for New Zealand F&B Businesses at Foodomics 2024.

Craig shares insights from this important discussion for Aotearoa New Zealand Food and Beverage Businesses.

How important is it for us to meet the growing demand for nutritious and safe foods that offer new options for healthy diets, for food security and for improving nutrition?

New Zealand has – with the High-Value Nutrition (HVN) National Science Challenge – led the world with several ‘firsts’ in modelling a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional approach to develop and deliver validated high-value foods and ingredients for health and wellbeing.

Foodomics 2024 assembled internationally successful businesses and food system networks and governance to prioritise the actions that will shape the future of the industry.

“A critical first step in bringing foods for health to market is understanding consumer emotions, perceptions and behaviours,” said Sarah Kennedy of Calocurb, the world’s first patented GLP-1 activating and 100% plant-based supplement designed to support healthy appetite management.

She detailed how New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) may offer financial support to New Zealand businesses to conduct market research; how they help provide access to databases, reports and market intelligence tools to a gain a deeper understanding of target markets and audiences; and the connections it has with in-market industry experts and advisors who can provide tailored advice and guidance to develop from that consumer understanding, effective marketing strategies.

Idea evaluation that bridges uncertainty and decision making was a focus of Callaghan Innovation and Clare Menzies, who detailed the support for those of us at the cutting edge of innovation where challenging the status quo is fraught with uncertainty. Callaghan Innovation has a suite of ‘Grow’ products/services for Frontier and Māori businesses to guide and unlock opportunities, and with Startup Aotearoa, personalised one-to-one support for startup and entrepreneurial initiatives.

Fifty-seven businesses have used HVN to research 137 products. The programme has generated over 250 publications and 4 patents in support, increasing NZ’s reputation as a producer of high-value foods, and for science and research that drives economic and social impact.

While it was too early for Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Trevor Drage to address the ‘elephant in the room’ – the future of these exemplary mission-led approaches to bringing together diverse stakeholders including business, researchers and Māori experts to have real-world impact – mission-led research is playing a crucial role in addressing global challenges. The He Rourou Whai Painga dietary intervention study is indicative of the ongoing collaboration and re-shaping of New Zealand’s research and commercialisation landscape.

Instability of supply, critical technology and infrastructure gaps, and enabling businesses to scale up effectively is assistance we look to the Ministry for Primary Industries for, as well as helping to expand market access. Neil Williams encouraged projects that prioritise high-value (over high-volume) and a safeguarding of environment, social wellbeing, and cultural and indigenous diversity.

True value is then increasingly dependent on a range of production, safety, health, nutrition (and environment and ethical) claims. Researchers and technologists were led by Evie Mete in how to leverage New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS), to support study design, data attributes and claims (labeling) content.

Finding a partner to bring this excellence and knowledge together, and to optimise sensory, processing and packaging options, fell to Marshall Bell of the New Zealand Food Innovation Network (NZFIN). NZFIN collaborates with businesses to help them navigate the various homes of science, and activates ideas to a commercial product.

When the support that this ecosystem provides is aligned, it creates a line of sight to commercialisation. Pāmu New Zealand’s Hamish Glendinning spoke to the need for sizing markets, demand and competitive responses in specific markets, and for ensuring both product and financial viability so that informed decisions about mitigating risks and getting the right resources in place to set a course for success can be made. Introducing and scaling groundbreaking sheep and deer milk products has been helped by the services of NZTE locally and internationally.

The meaningful and differentiated success of entrepreneurs, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and innovating large firms, is a key component of New Zealand sustainably doubling and multiplying value and growth, and of trade diversification.

HVN and Foodomics has reimagined research and industry partnerships, to provide researchers and businesses with the competence, knowledge and awareness needed to create and deliver foods to the world that people choose to stay healthy and well, increasing New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of high-value foods and as a science leader in food health relationships, supporting New Zealand’s future export growth.

Our food systems face unprecedented challenges while also holding enormous potential to be part of the solution to providing vital nutrients for health and wellbeing. Whether private businesses or public entities, we are each of us able to recommend and mobilise collective efforts that will scale action, raise ambition, and unlock the potential of one of the more sustainable food systems globally.

HVN has have compiled a selection of public and private agencies and support systems that may be able to support our industry partners in the future.