Science of Food

Prototyping the right foods in the best format to deliver health and wellness benefits

Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh

Harjinder, the leader of the Science of Food programme is the Director of the Massey Institute of Food Science and Technology at Massey University, Palmerston North and Director of the Riddet Institute. He has published over 300 research papers in international journals, and is co-inventor of 12 patents which have formed the basis of several commercial innovations. His international standing and outstanding contributions to food science has been recognized by a string of national and international awards, including the Prime Minister’s Science Prize.

Public Summary

The High-Value Nutrition (HVN) National Science Challenge is seeking to stimulate significant additional Food & Beverage (F&B) export revenues from New Zealand by 2025 (compared with 2015).  This can only be achieved if New Zealand is able to create branded food products that global consumer’s value – thus commanding higher premiums. 

In the first funding period, HVN focused on establishing the core research programmes to build the research capabilities, collaborations, and business linkages that form the HVN ecosystem. This has involved building an integrated and multidisciplinary science network spanning nutritional biochemistry, clinical trials, consumer research and food science and technology. HVN has also built links with New Zealand F&B businesses interested in creating high-value foods supported with validated health benefits. The Science of Food research programme plays a critical role in this network, providing an interface between biomedical, nutritional, and clinical science with food product development.

HVN’s role in this second funding period is to focus more on providing strategic support towards the selection and development of foods with validated health benefits that industry can take to export markets.  The Science of Food programme is vital to achieving this objective by ensuring that the work in the 4 Health-themed Priority Research Programmes (PRPs) is able to be translated into commercial food product development and manufacturing processes to deliver the intended health benefits to consumers.  The programme will contribute to this through a multi-stream approach involving:

  • working with the Health PRP teams and related industry stakeholders in the strategic early stage selection of foods and beverages for clinical trials,
  • engagement with Māori F&B businesses to facilitate indigenous innovation via HVN associated funding platforms and new product development activities
  • designing and developing innovative foods to deliver health benefits to consumers (targeted by HVN, validated via the Health PRPs and ultimately commercialised by industry partners),
  • developing advanced, and potentially novel or proprietary, solutions for delivering validated bioactive components into target food systems (leveraging Tranche 1 research), and
  • scheduled monitoring and dissemination of updates of the changing environment to minimize regulatory and commercial risks.

This will see the importance of the Science of Food programme maintained within HVN, as all the Health PRPs move to undertake clinical trials during the second funding period.  Therefore, it will be critical that relevant research capabilities in food science and technology from across HVN’s ecosystem are at the leading edge of food developments internationally and are always available to HVN.

In an effort to enable the timely availability of food science guidance and technology support, the Science of Food programme will retain core capabilities that can be immediately applied to developing novel food-based systems.  These activities are coordinated with partner organisations in the HVN ecosystem to recruit specialist capabilities as needed.  This provides HVN with the ability to meet the challenge of creating the prototype foods required by the Health PRPs for their clinical trials, establishing a strong foundation for F&B businesses to leverage from as they seek to grow their food export returns.

Watch Patent Landscapes – Dr Peter Brown

Watch Opportunities & Challenges – Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh

Watch Immune Enhancing Foods in the Face of Covid-19

Science of Food Highlights