20 Jul 2011

NZ food research 'lags behind similar countries'

2:21 pm on 20 July 2011

The Prime Minister's chief science advisor has told a conference that New Zealand is better placed than other countries to develop health-enhancing foods to meet a growing demand, especially in Asia.

Sir Peter Gluckman told the Agriculture and Horticulture Outlook conference the real value for food in future will be how it can enhance people's lives, and New Zealand needs to be working on meeting that demand now.

However he warned that New Zealand is well behind other countries in its research commitment and has a lot of catching up to do.

Sir Peter said New Zealand is 10 or 20 years behind other small, advanced countries such as Israel, Denmark and Singapore which put many more times the money and effort into research and innovation.

New Zealand has under-invested in research and development, he says, and has not ensured the development of the capabilities needed.

KPMG regional agribusiness head Ian Proudfoot says collaboration with bigger partners will be the key to getting products with enhanced nutritional and health values into the right markets.