AgResearch has assured meat industry partners that its recently proposed Future Footprint plans to rejuvenate its ageing research campuses and ensure the organisation is fit for the 21st century will not affect meat science results.
The injection of $100 million into the campus infrastructure will see the establishment of two major hubs: one at Grasslands in Palmerston North where 310 staff will be based; and the other in Lincoln on the South Island, with 301 staff. In addition, two regional campuses will operate at Ruakura near Hamilton, where meat science has traditionally been based and where 96 staff will be based, and at Invermay on the South Island with 33. These will focus on regional environmental and farm systems research.
AgResearch’s science group leader for food and bio-based products Dr Jolon Dyer notes that meat science being undertaken at AgResearch is aimed at addressing industry needs across the value chain. This includes processing technology; microbiology and food safety; packaging, refrigeration and transportation issues; as well as identifying ways of ensuring meat quality and appearance for export and domestic markets.
The dedicated research team of 20 working in meat and associated food quality and assurance are currently split across the two campuses at Ruakua and Palmerston North, he explains. While no moves will be planned before 2016, it is intended eventually that, as facilities become available, that all of the food-focused teams will be part of the Food HQ hub in Palmerston North.
“AgResearch regards meat and food research as a vital part of the supporting one of New Zealand’s major export industries. The world’s growing population is demanding high quality protein and many particularly value the premium produce from New Zealand,” says Dyer. “It’s important that we have the research, skills and knowledge in the industry to back up this industry and ensure our products reach far off markets in perfect condition.”
Meat processor ANZCO Foods, one of New Zealand’s largest export companies with an annual turnover of $1.3 billion, believes that the development plans will deliver even more value to the primary sector. The company works with AgResearch to ensure its sheep and beef producers benefit from its scientific research and innovations, says ANZCO managing director Mark Clarkson.
“AgResearch’s consolidation plans have been designed to increase industry collaboration. We look forward to further developing the partnership and delivering even more value to the primary sector through new science and the resulting contribution to New Zealand’s economic growth.”
This article has appeared in Food NZ magazine (December/January 2013) and is reproduced here with permission.