The time is ripe for a new digital food world for New Zealand, says Riddet

Foods in a Digital World

A brave new digital food world for New Zealand has been envisaged by a team from New Zealand’s food Centre of Excellence (CoRE), the Riddet Institute.

A newly released booklet, ‘Foods in a Digital World’, follows in the footsteps of the Institute’s ‘Call to Arms’, which proposed a cross-sector industry group working together on issues affecting the primary sector in 2012. The latest publication arose from a meeting held at the Riddet Institute in February 2017 to discuss smart foods that was attended by a group of invited industry thought leaders, explains one of the booklet’s co-authors Dr Mike Boland, executive officer and principal scientist for the Institute. The other co-authors were Jeremy Hill, Juliet Ansell and Steffan Kelly. The team also had input from KPMG’s Ian Proudfoot and Emma Wheeler and Zespri’s Carol Ward.

Mike Boland, Riddet Institute
Mike Boland

“The meeting suggested a small group should formulate an action plan for New Zealand food organisations to exploit the digital revolution to develop smart food systems as part of the drive to add value to New Zealand’s food. The booklet is a product from that small group and presents the outline of an action plan to address the issue,” he says.

The group has identified four mega-trends that they believe will affect the future of food: urbanisation; connectedness of people with each other and things through digital technology like smartphones; food availability and wastage; and better nutrition. They are now calling for an action plan to develop a smart food system that engages with smart appliances, smart food identification and supporting data systems to address: consumer health and nutrition; convenience; less wastage of food and other resources; and a robust and meaningful brand: “Eat New Zealand”.

Such a system would capture the opportunities presented by new technologies, new ways of doing business and new access directly to the consumer, they write.
New Zealand needs to position itself as a strong player in the international food market:
  • As a country
  • As a “consortium” of producers, manufacturers and
  • exporters
  • And most importantly, all along the supply/value chain to the consumers, to provide clear and secure origin, provenance and quality information for the consumer.
“Consumers must look for and recognise New Zealand goods and what they stand for in the international market,” says Boland, adding other countries and markets are already doing things in this space, such as EIT Foods, an EU consortium of 50 business, universities and research centres and Australia’s Food Agility CRC.
Recommendations are that New Zealand set up a Smart Foods Centre, a digital ‘Brand NZ’ identity, a clearly identified and widely accepted New Zealand cuisine, a national harmonised database and data system of New Zealand food and an in-depth survey of smart kitchen and smart food systems.

Download a copy of Foods in a Digital World to read more …



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