Musseling-up 2.0: High-Value Greenshell Mussel Foods and their anti-inflammatory properties

Research Team

Public Summary

Principal Investigator: Dr Matt Miller, Cawthron Institute

Collaborating Organisations: Massey University, Christchurch Clinical Studies Trust, University of Chester

New Zealand’s Greenshell™ mussels (GSM) are the heavyweights of our aquaculture export sector, attracting $325m in export earnings each year for their highly desirable taste and plate appeal.  While GSM are currently primarily promoted as a whole product, this iconic delicacy has many hidden talents waiting to be realised.

The long-term aim of the research project is to assist the transition of GSM from a market concentrated on relatively low-price “commodity protein” products to a market position based on high-value nutrition and health products.

This new research builds on outcomes from an earlier HVN research programme, during which scientists demonstrated the protective power of Greenshell™ mussel for knee joint health in a pre-clinical setting.  The multi-disciplinary, world-leading research team assembled for this programme reunites and strengthens the successful collaboration between industry and leading New Zealand science established in the previous programme, including the Cawthron Institute, Sanford Limited and Massey University, with the addition of researchers from AgResearch and Plant & Food Research.

Sanford is New Zealand’s largest Greenshell™ mussel producer, generating over 40% of the country’s output, and is actively working to improve all aspects of Greenshell™ mussel breeding, production, processing and food innovation.

The research team aims to identify and validate the health benefits of Greenshell™ mussels by using a systems nutrition approach and novel methods to develop a better understanding of the relationships between inflammation, metabolism and musculoskeletal function.  The programme will measure the effects of Greenshell™ mussels on acute and chronic inflammation, as well as effects on joint and muscle function.  The trials will be conducted by Plant & Food Research Limited and Massey University.  Cawthron Institute and AgResearch scientists will support the clinical trials by developing modern analytical techniques to help elucidate mechanism, assisting in discovering how Greenshell™ mussel works.

The overall goal is to add value to the Greenshell™ mussels industry to provide the clinical evidence to establish food health claims.  This impact to the industry is to drive the price and move out of commodity markets into higher value spaces.

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