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Saturday 25 June 2022

NZ, the emerging protein sector and the future – report

7th May 2021 By Bridget O'Connell | bridget@foodticker.co.nz | @foodtickernz

New Zealand is being left behind by its international peers in the increasingly competitive emerging protein sector, according to a new analysis.

The Emerging proteins in Aotearoa New Zealand: What will it take to thrive analysis released as part of AgriFood Week, said the country needed to take a ‘New Zealand Inc’ approach if it was to catch up with the rest of the world..

It identified that there was significant and diverse activity bubbling away in the sector in New Zealand – particularly in plant-based foods.

But it called for much deeper collaboration between industry, government and researchers to unlock the country’s potential across a broader spectrum of activity such as cell culture, or fermented protein food products, or the commercial plant-protein ingredients sector.

“The main area of current activity is plant-based foods,” the report by Food HQ, AGMARDT and Emerging Protein NZ said. “And it seems likely that this will remain the key area of focus for NZ producers for at least the short to medium term.”

The level of emerging proteins activity in New Zealand needed to be put in context, however.

“Many of the more advanced economies we tend to compare ourselves with – the Netherlands, Singapore, Israel – are investing significantly more, moving much more rapidly, and doing it at scale,” the report said.

“They have deep engagement between industry, government (especially regulators) and research providers, and ambitious targets for the role that emerging proteins will play in their future agri-food sectors. At the moment, New Zealand is being left behind our peers within this increasingly competitive sector.”

The global emerging protein market has exploded in recent years going from niche product to mainstream and is on track to account for 11% of the global protein market by 2035. New consumer brands such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have stormed the so-called analogue meat scene, while traditional food companies launch their own plant-based product lines competing with new entrants in this space.

The report, which involved canvassing more than 185 sector specialists, laid out a range of initiatives that could be undertaken to push domestic development and stressed that there needed to be a “NZ-inc whole of value chain approach”.

Initiatives included identifying sectors with commercial potential then bringing syndicates together to progress R&D, consumer and marketing insights, regulatory framework development, and infrastructure improvements in this early stage space.

There also needed to be selective investment into infrastructure to allow businesses to scale up and commercialise, and research into how best to take these to market leveraging brand New Zealand and existing export market intelligence and capability.

Other initiatives included the establishment of a talent attraction programme, fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and a review of regulation around emerging proteins and compliance pathways for new products – a big barrier compared with some other countries.

The report stressed that developing an emerging protein sector in New Zealand was not at the expense of traditional proteins such as meat. Instead, there was an “opportunity for New Zealand to have a more diverse food production system that produces both sustainable high-quality animal and emerging protein products”.

It added that the emerging protein sector could be used to accelerate the country’s move to a more circular food production system, and the diversity of the sector could be a “real strength”.

Click here for the full report.

 

 


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