Andy Elliot 2018 Nuffield Scholar – Global Insights: What focus should the NZ agri food sector put on nutrition and high value ingredients

My journey started with a quest to explore what a move to focus more on nutrition would mean for our Primary Industries. 

If we diversified and invested into ingredients, extractable compounds and functional claims from our existing production could we increase value for export and develop new market opportunities? 

In Canada I had an epiphany.  There I met companies who were commodity producers of legumes and grains, within three years they have transitioned to different varieties to become ingredient companies and are now growing specialised crops for customers. These companies are now investing in their own breeding programmes and product formulation businesses, because their produce is no longer grown for visual consumer preferences, it’s grown for its nutrition or extractable value as ingredients. 

This was a catalyst for me to think about how NZ could develop secondary income streams that focus on nutrition, micro-nutrients and dietary minimums, and develop a BACK STORY to our food, the environment, our waste, a more diverse, integrated food system.  

Premium food should ultimately boost health, our mental health and our wellbeing…… as Industry we need to take a greater lead in developing this strategy around our food. 

 I believe it’s becoming too risky and expensive for us all to solely focus on end consumer.  

Food fashion is far more unpredictable than nutrition, so why do we focus on trying to understand food fashion over nutrition. 

If we chose to work with strategic customers already in market, customers who develop products such as formulated foods, nutraceuticals, vitamins, dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals. 

If we co-design solutions and products for their existing customer base, we would be opening a new business model and opportunity for growth and export from our existing base. 

By working with companies in market, we can utilise their science capability, their consumer research and knowledge, their technology, their Govts funding and their investment $$.  We can double up.  Our new customer in this space is a customer who already has customers. 

We do not have to do everything in NZ anymore or own all the IP.   It’s making us too slow and too unresponsive to market opportunities.  

We have science and tech capability, but we need strategies that offer both value creation and solutions to environmental and health problems.  

More engagement internationally would position us competitively with other countries who have a head start in Industries and market offerings we are just developing.  With strong leadership we accelerate adoption of resilient agriculture models and build a more expansive Industry vision. 

The opportunity that NZ’s Primary Industry has is an opportunity to create a new pathway. 

A story around nutrition, transparency and the environment. 

You can read Andy’s full speech on LinkedIn here >


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