New Zealand’s current protein production is dominated by meat and dairy. There are ongoing and increasingly growing challenges for sustainability, environmental limits, and pressure for greater efficiencies. Emergent and developing trends in plant-based proteins are creating movements and shifts in consumer demand and food production. Health and nutrition are influencing consumer demand more than ever, therefore the value proprositions in the food market have to meet this demand. The current alternative protein industry is still in its infancy in New Zealand with some sectors such as Hemp and Quinoa rapidly growing. However, in general, New Zealand is behind the main growth countries producing plant based protein like Canada and the Netherlands. This presents an opportunity to take learnings and develop potential collaborations, to advance New Zealand’s progression.
Throughout this study, a greater understanding was sought in the global positioning of alternative proteins and within the New Zealand context. This was then used to identify the considerations required to evaluate the importance of alternative proteins to the Agri-industry in New Zealand.
Key findings and discussion points raised are:
- Food production needs to increase by 70% to feed the world population of 9.7 billion in 2050.
- New Zealand has a natural bioeconomy as there is low fossil fuel use and more energy produced by renewable sources (80%) such as wind, geothermal, hydroand biomass, but New Zealand needs to move into a new bioeconomy charactarised by biotechnology and greater cross -sector thinking and actions.
- The Fourth revolution is here and characterised by building on the Third, the digital revolution, that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. The fourth is combining human and machine where technology is embedded in our societies enabling artificial intelligence, renewable energy, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles.
- Sustainability is key in all aspects of food production. Using the fourth revolution and utilising plant-based opportunities to create products that fill market gaps or outperforms the rest of the world will enable New Zealand to be a global leader in food production.
- The steps that enable New Zelaand to be a global leader should concide with achieving goals in climate change (the Paris Agreement) and mitigating the affects of green house gases and the other pollution occurring like high nutrient loading in water bodies.
- “Farmers are motivated by a diverse range of drivers and constrained (and enabled) by a range of social, cultural, economic, and physical factors. Farmers will therefore react in different ways to external drivers of change and will respond differently to encouragement, incentives, and legislation aimed at influencing their farming practice.”
From the above findings and conclusions , the following recommendations have been suggested:
- Keep monitoring consumer trends & food markets to increase awareness of markets and consumer change
- Maintain and grow our reputation/ story of being food producers of high value and highly nutritious ingredients or wholefoods.
- Leverage our competencies of current successful sectors especially as meat and dairy innovators
- Seek expertise where knowledge or skills are low and empower people to become experts in new alternative proteins.
- Encourage and develop coalitions with the government departments such as Ministry for Primary Industries, the Ministry for the Environment and farmers to provide incentives and/or support in areas where New Zealand can deliver the world’s best produce.
- Reward and support leaders paving the way for the nation and their peers in agricultural and especially in new products or production that adds value to the New Zealand Agricultural Industry.
- Develop a New Zealand plant-based food strategy for New Zealand agriculture
- Create and develop a greater understanding and technical expertise in plant-based opportunities to enable greater diffusion of adoption to farmers.