Innovation NZ style (BEST PRACTICE)

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An advanced food pilot plant is under construction in NZ – $6.5 million cost – completion by February 2008 – at the Institute of Food Nutrition and Human Health on Massey University’s Palmerston North campus.

It will cater both for industrial needs and academic requirements. It will meet the NZ Food Safety Authority standards and be able to produce small scale product batches which meet export certification. 

The plant includes smaller laboratories to allow sensitive work in tandem with teaching classes, a complex of chillers and freezers, a food quality assessment laboratory, and a sensory suite for consumer trials. 

Post-harvest quality has a dedicated laboratory area including 5 specialised walk-in temperature and humidity-controlled rooms. Dedicated food engineering and dairy processing equipment will be housed in separate areas, and a research area is devoted to extrusion technology – first in NZ.

Email: c.s.brennan@massey.ac.nz

Our assessment

These plants are becoming commonplace in the EC and elsewhere. For example, there is a similar plant at Werribee (outside Melbourne) which is around 8 years old. However the Palmerston North plant has the potential to be more effective than the Werribee plant, and many others. There are 3 reasons:

  • it provides a ‘lighthouse’ for increased focus on high value food product  for export markets, where NZ is already ahead of Australia.
  • it can enhance NZ’s clean, green image, where it has a clear global position.
  • it can help, by the research and market trialling of niche exotic products, leverage the mystique that NZ holds in distant global markets.
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