Food innovations developed in New Zealand have a high degree of diversity and sustainability that can be directly attributed to the unique and deep natural resources offered by the country’s geographical remoteness and mild climate. High quality meat, dairy, fruit, wine, seafood, and a wide range of natural product ingredients have made New Zealand a major player in the global food and beverage markets. While food research and development is significantly centered in the major universities and public research institutes, it is also increasingly driven by a diversity of small companies specializing in areas of high global demand – innovative new dairy nutrition products being only one of many high growth examples. Another major trend is that large global food and beverage manufacturers have built a presence in New Zealand through partnerships or acquisitions – Nestle, Danone, Suntory being among prominent examples.
Food innovators across the country benefit from strong industry bodies representing the different sectors, and from a well developed network of shared expertise and infrastructure operated under the New Zealand Food Innovation Network (NZFIN). Each of NZFIN’s four regional food product development centres has a different focus depending on the needs, maturity, strengths and capabilities of local businesses. Between them, they offer a complementary suite of services designed to help New Zealand food and beverage businesses grow. As an example, the NZFIN’s Foodbowl in Auckland is a recently built, state-of-the-art shared facility providing access to a large variety of cutting-edge equipment to optimize production and scale-up processes for new food and beverage products. The Foodbowl’s separate rooms have equipment covering all aspects of food processing including high pressure processing, aseptic treatment of drinks and beverages, freeze-drying, dry processing, packaging etc. Special attention is given to the protection of the identities and IP of individual users. NZFIN’s website provides full descriptions of a large diversity of successfully completed food innovation projects demonstrating the wide span of the network’s capabilities and the high quality of groundbreaking food and beverage innovations being developed in New Zealand.
By Joerg Kistler, BioPacific Partners Venture Partner and Director of BIO INC