Q&A with Dr Jocelyn Eason Authentic brand stories, strong value chain awareness and a passion for food matched with business savvy are driving success for a new wave of kiwi food innovators FIND OUT MORE Q. Dr Jocelyn Eason leads the portfolio of Food Innovation science at Plant & Food Research. As a first-time judge in the New Zealand Innovation Awards she saw plenty to prove a bright future for New Zealand’s global food brand. What attracted you to get involved with the Innovation Awards? We saw a great opportunity to A. connect with talented, driven people and companies who share our passion for food. It’s a unique chance to publically recognise the commitment it takes to bring new foods to consumers and to start conversations about how we can help. Q. Are there any specific trends Plant & Food Research is seeing in the types of foods where kiwis are looking to innovate? From dairy to wine, fruit to A. seafood you can be sure someone is working on formulating, branding or delivering that product to high value consumers in new and novel ways. More specifically we’re seeing huge interest in highly nutritional or functional products, new uses for co-products and a rising interest in how New Zealand native taonga species can create a point of difference in the market. Q. As a science company, how does Plant & Food Research connect what it does in the lab with what’s valuable in the market? We learn a huge amount A. directly from clients, plus we have a team of specialist researchers who work on sensory science and product and consumer insights. We also have a have a working model we call ‘Consumer First’, which we can use at the start of a project to ask ‘Who is the consumer, where are they and what do they value?’ Dr Eason manages the scientific direction of research, and oversees the delivery and commercialisation of products, for the food and beverage industries. The portfolio includes 140 scientists who investigate human responses to food, the influence of food on human nutrition and wellness, and the production of nutritionally-rich foods. Q. Is New Zealand’s science changing as our food industry changes? I think the biggest change is A. in how we collaborate within the science community and how we connect with industry. We’re finding that we can better deliver valuable R&D when we bring together multiple science disciplines within one team – sometimes within a single organisation or funding system, most often across several partners and investment mechanisms. That might mean supply-side partnerships like FoodHQ, or the High Value Nutrition National Science Challenge, or it could be on the demand side, where companies partner to purchase or access research they can then share and apply to their specific needs. Q. What advice would you offer to entrepreneurs who want to be successful in food innovation? The Food & Beverage finalists A. in this year’s Innovation Awards are setting a great example: really focus on delivering a solution to consumers, not just the product you have or like. Go beyond the physical product and make sure you have an authentic story to tell about your brand, who you are, what you want to achieve, and why that matters to people and the community. Understand your value chain – foods can be complicated to deliver, know how the chain works and fix those points of difficulty. Lastly, do whatever you can to match your love for the food with a solid understanding of business. If you don’t have that, look for help – there’s lots out there. That investment will pay off when you hit the inevitable wobbles as your business grows. Pre-sliced apples for convenience Delivering proven health benefits From good to great health Food gifting in China China: Fresh food habits Plant & Food Research is a proud to sponsor the New Zealand Innovation Awards.
INNOVATIONAWARDS.ORG.NZ 3 1 INNOVATION IN FOOD & BEVERAGE FONTERRA GA FOR PAEDIATRIC NUTRITION Fonterra may be New Zealand’s largest company, but size and a long history as a market leader aren’t barriers to innovation – at least if its breast milk substitute is anything to go by. Of course, 'breast is best', however, not all mothers can breastfeed, so Fonterra has developed a breast milk alternative so infants can still get the nutrition that’s critical for their development. Containing such ingredients as lipids, hydrolysates to support digestive comfort and allergy avoidance, and probiotics to support immunity and potentially reduce the risk of allergies and digestive discomfort, the product is aimed at being as natural a substitute for pure breastmilk as possible. It also contains gangliosides (GA), a type of molecule critical for immunology and fighting conditions CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO as diverse as influenza and obesity. In all, Fonterra says the formula is the product of about US$50 million worth of innovation and research. Aside from supporting the health of an infant’s developing gut wall and immune system, the lipids in the formula also support brain development. The brain is a lipidrich organ, and complex lipids such as phospholipids and gangliosides comprise up to 35 percent of the total lipids in the brain. Likewise, as 2-3 percent of babies suffer from cow’s milk protein allergies – meaning thousands of Kiwi kids can’t drink cow’s milk without getting sick – the hydrolysed proteins mean the formula can be digested and absorbed normally by the infant without triggering an allergic response. Earlier this year, Fonterra released its Anmum formula. Fonterra Brands New Zealand managing director Leon Clement says Anmum is a $200 million brand in Fonterra’s Asian markets, with an established track record of quality and trust with parents and caregivers. “Anmum draws on Fonterra and its legacy companies’ 50 plus years of experience in dairy research and in producing paediatric formulas for third parties,” he says. “Bringing Anmum to New Zealand families means we are now providing nutrition for key life stages.” Health benefits of Fonterra’s innovation aside, there’s a fair chunk of change to be had too. The company claims there’s more than $75 million to be made in the infant formula market in New Zealand alone, and billions in Asian markets like China. A massive print, online and marketing campaign certainly suggest Fonterra is willing to spend the money needed to get the word out about the formula, which is blended and packed at Fonterra’s Canpac site in the Waikato and sold in baby food aisles at select supermarkets across the country in pastel-coloured 900-gram cans. But there’s more to it than just a fancy marketing campaign and a lot of investment into its development. The co-op also helped create the Anmum Knowledge Centre, a network of worldleading scientific research institutes, paediatricians and child-development experts. In 2007, Fonterra also set up the Anmum Advisory Board to guide research conducted by Anmum. Headed by Professor Geoffrey Cleghorn of the University of Queensland’s School of Medicine, the Board also assists local doctors and nurses throughout Asia to keep up with the latest scientific discoveries and research into child development. The fact Fonterra is a trusted brand means it’s also easier to sell amid a climate of concern about food safety and the nutritional value of food, Clement claims. In fact, he says he hopes Anmum becomes one of the top three brands of formula in New Zealand. “It is a trusted brand internationally and we are confident it will become one here too.” EVALUATOR'S COMMENTS Thank you for submitting your work on ensuring that mothers of babies who are not able to be breastfed can access a product that mimics breast milk composition for brain development. Awesome investment in clinical research to substantiate health claims. Thank you and well done to the whole team! Pleasing to see Fonterra collaborating with New Zealand based research providers as well as internationally.