By Alasdair Baxter, The FoodBowl business development manager
Driving back from the excellent NZIFST annual conference, the classic ‘70s song ‘More questions than answers’ was going through my head.
The conference is attended by a mix of academics, students, industry suppliers, food technologists and a handful of brave entrepreneurs. The theme was ‘collaboration’ and there was certainly plenty of evidence of this at the conference.
Perhaps more importantly, there was also much lively discussion about the big question of the role of food in the economic future of New Zealand. It’s clear that we can’t continue to rely on more and more cows to make us all better off. But if ‘cows2’ are not the answer to future prosperity, then what is? Should we follow other countries and move at pace into alternative proteins such as plant-based proteins, fermented proteins, cell culture?
Some delegates asked why would we do this when other countries are already years ahead of us – what is our point of difference especially if the future is growing protein indoors or in fermenters? Speaker Alex Worker from Future Foods Aotearoa pointed out that we do not yet have a shared vision for the Future of Food in New Zealand, but he emphasised that we all need to contribute to ‘modern foods’ now – we can’t just wait for Government to legislate the future.
We know there are pockets of intense innovation activity around New Zealand that is pushing the boundaries of our knowledge and getting Government support – but it will also be fascinating to see the results of the Government’s Industry Transformation Plan – due out in the next few months.
Our largest industry is fast approaching a major crossroads and it’s crucial for all Kiwis that we have a vision for the future that we can passionately get behind.
Dr. Alasdair Baxter is business development manager at The FoodBowl. Prior to joining The FoodBowl, he worked in technical and sales roles for various multinational ingredients companies.
The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Hot Source, NZ Food Technology, or the parent company, Hayley Media.