Mutual benefits from food
The Marlborough Research Centre acknowledged its past as it signed an agreement setting its future in Blenheim yesterday.
The centre signed a memorandum of understanding with the Riddet Institute which promotes science underpinning the development of health-enhancing foods.
Riddet Institute general manager Mark Ward said the agreement would help businesses and scientists work together to create high-value foods and beverages in Marlborough. This would earn money and create jobs.
Massey University vice-chancellor Robert Anderson said marinated mussels were a cutting-edge product when the Government first looked at investing in the research centre in the 1980s. Last year, vacuum-packed live mussels from Marlborough, a much more sophisticated product, won a national food award at Massey University.
From today, the two organisations would share information about projects they were involved with and collaborate when there are mutual benefits.
Mr Ward said Riddet Institute scientists had already helped test seaweed products with possible weight loss and anti-inflammatory benefits, developed by a Marlborough company.
Other opportunities included converting industrial waste streams into foods or beverages which would fetch high prices in Asia.
The agreement created the right structure for commercialising new products, Mr Ward said.
Professor Anderson was part of a primary production committee which recommended that the Government invest in the Marlborough Research Centre which was struggling for funds, after visiting the district in 1983.
"The future of this country and this region for the foreseeable future hangs on agrifood," Professor Anderson said yesterday.
The world population would reach 9 billion in 2050 and New Zealand would be ideally placed to target the value-added end of the food market, he said.
One such product was nano-capsules of health-enhancing omega 3 in a liquid form which could be included in food products such as muffins. The omega-3 was released in the intestine which avoided the undesirable reflux effect of eating fish oil, Professor Anderson said.
Riddet scientists had completed the development phase of these capsules and they were being commercialised, he said.