News and Events

Report: Unleashing Aotearoa New Zealand’s next protein revolution

August 3, 2023

A new report was launched today by FoodHQ Innovation Limited called ‘Unleashing Aotearoa New Zealand’s next protein revolution’ to help accelerate our understanding of how we can contribute to the emerging protein supply market based on Aotearoa New Zealand’s uniqueness. The emerging protein supply market is growing rapidly and there is a ‘race’ happening globally to find the next scalable, sustainable source of protein.

Aotearoa New Zealand has been at the forefront of producing high-quality protein from grass-fed meat and milk for many decades, but with changing climate and growing conditions, shifting consumer preferences and anticipated population growth, we need to diversify. Primary sector producers need to consider options to add value to their land and traditional protein industries. As a small country, with resource constraints we need to properly evaluate the role New Zealand plays in the emerging protein market if we are going to take advantage of the opportunity in front of us.

Developing an emerging protein sector is a complimentary source of added value for Aotearoa New Zealand’s primary producers.

Dr Victoria Hatton, CEO of FoodHQ says, “the time is right to move beyond the defensive positions that have existed for a long time and explore how we can diversify our protein offering, the fact is, that farmers want to diversify to protect their livelihoods and build resilience into their farms.  If we do not diversify our proteins sector, New Zealand not only risks losing the opportunity to develop new export markets to meet growing consumer demand seeking new food choices, but also the chance to do what we do best, which is to grow food and innovate across the food system.”

The report looks at ten emerging proteins and uses a matrix to assess how each of them is rated against four areas: international competition, regulation, natural resources and know-how.  Hatton says, “we gave each emerging protein a score for each area of the matrix to help us understand which emerging protein product class New Zealand could be world leading in developing based on the capabilities and infrastructure we already have.”   

The report will help make informed decisions on how we will diversify our protein offering. To develop a ‘sector’ around emerging proteins will need appropriate scaffolding to give it the best opportunity to succeed. Scaffolding in the way of government support is critical for the industry through appropriate levels of funding, incentives to farmers and growers,  scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs, and suitable regulation that supports an emerging industry. Hatton says “we are years behind the rest of the globe in this ‘race’  and it is the right time for all actors in this new ecosystem to collaborate and develop a sector strategy that sits within and alongside current food sector strategies.” 

Based on the information in the report there are four emerging proteins that New Zealand may be well placed to explore further or advance: leafy greens, fungi, Hemp and Seaweed.

Justin Lemmens, CEO of Sustainable Foods who uses Hemp to make the Plan*t Hemp Chicken product says, “to be successful on a global scale we must have a unique value proposition, grow and produce delicious foods from emerging proteins in New Zealand that deliver on taste and texture without compromise.” He believes that is only achievable with a strategy that supports “deep partnerships with growers, processors, research organisations and industry bodies alongside support from government as the industry develops and matures at scale.”

FoodHQ is a partnership of AgResearch, Fonterra, Massey University, Palmerston North City Council, Plant and Food Research, Sprout Technology and the Riddet Institute.

Download report