Food HQ at Massey University

March 2014

A super campus for the food industry at Massey University with industry partners

The Manawatu campus of Massey University hosts FoodHQ, a collaborative research centre for agri-food innovation.  Six partners are involved, all within a one kilometre radius: Massey University, Plant and Food Research, BCC, AgResearch, Fonterra, and AsureQuality.

The FoodHQ commitment includes planned expenditure of $250 million over 20 years on the Fitzherbert Science Park side of Tennent Drive on the outskirts of Palmerston North and the University’s Turitea campus site across the road.

FoodHQ was launched in the middle of 2013, at Massey University by the Minister for Science and Innovation, Steven Joyce.  It offers expertise in agri-science, food science and technology, food processing, commercialisation, nutrition and health, and consumer science and policy.  The super-campus will eventually be home to more than 4000 researchers and educators involved in the agri-food value chain.  Designed to meet or surpass world benchmarks, it will compare with other industry-centred innovation hubs in Denmark, the Netherlands, Singapore and the United States.

Project director Mark Ward explains that the super-campus would reflect a modernisation of the facilities in the Fitzherbert Science Park and Massey University, and the partners will upgrade current facilities and build new ones in consultation with each other.  “Most importantly, the super-campus will give current and future global customers one-door access to the very best in New Zealand food innovation.  The collaborative approach creates a faster, easier way for food companies to work with the partners.”

It has been estimated that $230 million in annual economic value will be added to the region from the creation of new research and development jobs.

Together, the research organisations already represent one of the largest concentrations of food scientists in the world but Mr Ward said there is a need to be more efficient and effective through collaboration.  “Because our value chains are fragmented, we’re not as competitive on the world stage as we could be.  While the six main FoodHQ partners are all strong organisations in their own right, bringing them together as FoodHQ opens the way for a collective vision, greater accomplishments and a defragmentation of the industry.  This will attract major food producers from around the world to undertake their research and development here.

“FoodHQ will also champion the idea of food innovation and promote New Zealand’s shift to being a value-added food nation, building on its strength as a commodity producer.”

There are already many examples of how the organisations have successfully worked together in food innovation, such as the products Anlene and Omelife.

Anlene, which is the leading adult milk formula brand across Asia offering a range of high-calcium dairy products specially formulated to encourage optimal bone health, resulted from a collaborative project between Massey University and Fonterra.  Omelife is a smart omega-3 fish oil delivery system, developed by the Riddet Institute, which is added to a very wide range of foods with little effect on the sensory characteristics and shelf life of the products.

Plant & Food Research is known throughout the world for adding value to fruit, vegetable, elite crops and innovative food products. Its work was the basis for the Delcyan extract from blackcurrants that has been shown to reduce mental fatigue and enhance cognitive function and feelings of calm.  Delcyan is now being marketed by Just the Berries Ltd as a functional ingredient and a consumer product.  Likewise, AgResearch creates high-value foods and ingredients for the pastoral-based industries.

The Riddett Institute has a pilot plant for food product development, which includes equipment for heat processing, pasteurisation, UHT, spray drying, freeze drying, blast freezing, ice cream making, canning, steam cooking, meat handling, extruding and brewing.