Health and wealth key themes for new research funding
28 August 2013
Foods for health and the growth of New Zealand’s horticultural exports are the key focus of Plant & Food Research’s new Government funded research programmes announced by Minister Joyce earlier today. In total the Institute will be leading nine new projects designed to deliver economic, environmental and societal benefits to New Zealand.
The latest round of Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) research funding includes programmes designed to specifically support the export growth of New Zealand’s avocado, hops, potato and marine products, as well as new sensor technology for the management of fresh food exports.
The importance of pollination services to horticulture has also been recognised with further research commissioned into the role of alternative pollinators to safeguard New Zealand primary industries.
Avocado is an emerging export fruit sector for New Zealand, with current exports of around $96 million set to double by 2020. The new funding will investigate key issues affecting the industry such as irregular bearing, a feature of all avocado industries and a key contributor to overall low orchard productivity.
The new funding will support existing research in deliver new, improved hop cultivars for the emerging craft beer industry, by identifying genotypes with unique sensory properties for “fast-tracking” into product development.
New research will also capitalise on recent trends in consumer demand for functional foods to support the Food & Beverage sector. Two programmes – one to assist the industry in marketing products with scientifically-validated health claims that meet new regulations and a second to develop new products that address digestive health – will support the industry in trebling exports by 2025.
In addition to the nine research programmes led by Plant & Food Research, the Institute will also be collaborating in several others, including Cawthron Institute, Landcare Research and DairyNZ. The Biopolymer Network, of which Plant & Food Research is a strategic partner, was also successful in the new funding round.
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