Prior to the New Zealand launch of the Innovation Scan on emerging proteins, seven of the NZ companies featured in the scan attended a FoodHQ networking lunch.
This was an opportunity to meet to share excellent food (prepared by a local chef using the products provided by the companies) and discuss some of the challenges and opportunities for the individual companies and the sector. Hemp, oat, quinoa, algae and insect protein companies were represented. A number of government officials from MBIE and MPI were also present to listen and enjoy the food – in many instances it was the first time the officials had sampled foods containing the various protein sources.
It was not surprising to observe some of the differences faced by (for instance) an insect company deep in R&D compared to a plant protein ingredient company ready to connect to users and scale up facilities. However, there were many more similarities than differences. Some key themes included finding the right expertise and collaborators, challenges around getting insights and data on potential markets, and difficulties in achieving scale.