When milk engineering meets consumer demands and how this could affect the NZ dairy industry.

Executive summary

“If anybody anywhere in the world can use small amounts of energy, water and nutrients to create the same quality food as we can here then why would anyone buy from New Zealand?” That’s the question that Lance Wiggs director of several New Zealand high-growth companies (www.lancewiggs.com) asked to his readers back in February 2016. Health, lifestyles, animal welfare, sustainability and environmental concerns are motivating consumers to lean towards milk alternatives. Today, there are many startups (new entrants) from Silicon Valley and from all around the world, creating food innovations every day. New companies are producing traditional agri-food locally, in non-conventional ways using less energy, water, nutrients and pesticides; and are animal-free.

New Zealand dairy companies are focused on producing high quality food and value-added products to keep, and gain more, competitive advantage in an increasingly tough global market. The truth is that without leading edge: agritech, biotechnology, environmentally friendly practices and well supported innovative businesses, it will be very challenging to stay competitive in the decades to come.

The aim of this report is to create awareness around new milk alternatives and to better understand how they could affect the New Zealand dairy industry.

“We can’t afford not to be part of the food revolution, if we are not aware of what other people are doing we can’t be an effective competitor in any market.”

This report is based on literature review, conversations with people working in the dairy sector and a survey created to assess the general knowledge around new milk alternatives.

Leading the change or being forced to change, that will be a key decision that New Zealand dairy is going to face in the years to come. The dairy industry in New Zealand must embrace new food technology so it could be prepared to take advantage of the new opportunities presented.

The findings and observation of this report are: animal’s milk substitutes like soy, almond, rice, coconut milk, etc. have steadily grown in popularity, although none of these alternatives has been disruptive to the dairy industry. Now, there are game changing new options, improved alternatives to cow’s milk making their way to the markets. Bioengineered milk, plant-based milk manufactured using Artificial Intelligence and milk made from yellow peas are all rapidly rising on the horizon (intriguingly, Silicon Valley’s horizon always seems to be brighter than others). Food-tech startups are attracting a lot of attention nowadays, money is not an issue for most of them, they could potentially disrupt dairy markets globally and change the New Zealand dairy industry as we know it.


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