Can New Zealand fulfill its protein-powered future?

By Ankush Chibber

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags New zealand Nutrition

New Zealand has a powderful future in protein, says a leading food scientist
New Zealand has a powderful future in protein, says a leading food scientist
A New Zealand food scientist says the country needs to do more to harness its animal protein riches.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-Asia, Dr Mike Boland, principal scientist and executive officer at the Riddet Institute said New Zeland could sustain the protein requirements of more than 45 million people.

“Although New Zealand can only produce enough calories for 20 million, it can produce the protein requirements for 45 million people, and that is where it should focus,”​ Dr Boland said.


Boland is part of the Proteos Project, a joint venture between Riddet and the Netherland’s Wageningen University, whose goal is to find substitutes and extenders for animal protein; increase agri-production efficiencies; and extend the range of animal protein products.

Boland pointed out that animal-derived proteins (dairy, meat, fish and eggs) are the best source of dietary protein. “Plant sources suffer from low levels of protein in many cases [such as cereals] and poor bioavailability.”

He said that as economies develop people pursue better nutrition options such as less starchy food and more protein-rich food. “This is known as Bennett's law.  The FAO has predicted a doubling of the demand for animal-derived protein over the next 40 years as economies develop and the world population grows.”

New Zealand is the world's largest exporter of milk protein foods (in the guise of milk powders, cheese and milk protein-containing ingredients). 

“Animal-derived protein-rich products require high levels of water inputs and a temperate climate for growing grass, and that is what we have in New Zealand,”​ Dr Boland said.

“We are also looking at how to make new products that make more efficient use of the protein produced [for example by using by-products more effectively to make nutritional products], which will also make a small difference.”

“We are now moving into a phase of defining specific projects and seeking funding for them.”

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