As a government research institute in New Zealand, our traditional expertise and purpose has long revolved around livestock farming and animal proteins – and producing those proteins in the most efficient and sustainable means possible. Through the decades we have seen the clear value of a focus on producing meat, milk and fibre for the world, in a “clean and green” way.
Like the rest of the world, as researchers we see the need to respond to evolving consumer demand by exploring alternative methods of sustainably feeding the world’s growing population. The Smart Protein Project’s ambition to “develop alternative protein ingredients and products for humans which have a positive impact on bio-economy, environment, biodiversity, nutrition, food security and consumer trust and acceptance” therefore aligns well with AgResearch’s mission and purpose.
Among our AgResearch’s goals is to:
- Produce research that protects and enhances natural resources in a sustainable fashion;
- Contribute scientific understanding to added-value foods and bio-based products to meet evolving consumer demands.
In recent years, AgResearch has expanded its expertise into the realm of alternative proteins and how they can complement New Zealand’s traditional strengths in livestock and crop farming. Activities such as growing crops as a protein source for humans are now integrated into our agricultural portfolio.
AgResearch is a non-EU partner of the Smart Protein Project, and so sits outside of EU funding streams. As the project looks at opportunities with proteins derived from chickpea, lentils, faba beans, quinoa and mushroom, we will design our New Zealand-funded plant protein research activities to align with the EU programme.
This alignment will enhance our capability and allow knowledge sharing for mutual benefit. For New Zealand, the aim is to apply our traditional expertise around processing animal protein to proteins derived from New Zealand crops. These crops will also diversify land-use and provide additional income streams for primary producers in our own country. This will create more value from better purposed land-use, leading to more environmentally sustainable farming systems and greater economic opportunity.
Our own senior scientist, Dr Simon Loveday, recently contributed his views to the global discussion around plant proteins, focussing on the process of extracting proteins from plants and the opportunities for new formulated foods. You can read his paper published in the British Nutrition Foundation’s Nutrition Bulletin here; or view his brief talk on the subject here.
Dr Julie Cakebread, AgResearch
Dr Simon Loveday, AgResearch
Jarrod Booker, External Communications Manager, AgResearch
Tel: 0064 21 832 351