Research led by Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh, Head of the Massey Institute of Food Science and Technology, and Co-Director of Riddet Institute, has been awarded $1.5 million of funding from the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge. The funding is part of a $3 million investment announced today by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce.
The Massey-led Science of Food platform will receive $1.5 million to address the technological challenge of creating food products that provide enhanced health benefits by delivering natural health-enhancing compounds (bioactives) to the body. The team will ensure these bioactives are protected in their active form during the journey from raw ingredients to finished food products, and delivered to the body through targeted release during digestion.
Up to $1.5 million has also been allocated to Consumer Insights research at Plant and Food Research, with a focus on the health and wellness needs of Asian consumers.
Professor Singh says the Science of Food research programme is a critical enabler for the High-Value Nutrition Health Platform Programmes. “The first phase of the research programme, Scanning the Horizon, provided essential information and guidance in the regulatory, intellectual property and market intelligence landscapes,” he says. “Bioactive Food Systems is the second phase. This project will leverage extensive capability and fundamental knowledge developed by the Riddet Institute Centre of Research Excellence [CoRE] and will develop novel technologies and food systems that will allow successful delivery of health enhancing bioactive natural compounds. The project will bring together experts in the field of food colloids, food formulations, bioactive materials, drug delivery systems and food product development,” Professor Singh says. “We will adapt or license existing technologies where possible for rapid impact and to shorten the path to commercialisation. There are substantial gaps in knowledge about how bioactives interact with food materials and what this means for the uptake of bioactives by the body during digestion. We will stretch the boundaries of current knowledge and develop new technologies for protecting and delivering bioactive materials in food and beverage products.”
Professor Singh is leading this project, with Massey colleagues Dr Abby Thompson and Dr Simon Loveday, as well as food regulations expert Lynley Drummond. The project also involves scientists from the University of Otago, the Cawthron Institute, AgResearch and the Israel Institute of Technology.
The consumer-focused work is led by Dr Roger Harker of Plant and Food Research in collaboration with the University of Auckland, the University of Otago, Price Waterhouse Coopers and Trace Research.