Category Archives: Food & Beverage

PFR YouTube videos

If you’re interested in the world of horticulture, seafood and food research then check out this library of video snippets from my employer, Plant & Food Research

I’ve stared in a couple yet to be released so in the mean time here is one specifically around the numbers of our horticulture industry


Natural Products West Expo

I  recently attended the Natural Products West Expo in Anaheim, USA this month. The purpose of the trip was to get a feel for the marketplace. I spent my time walking through the exhibition halls with 20,000 other people picking up samples and talking with reps.

There were several ‘hot markets’ or trends that I came across:

  • Probiotics are mainstream but prebiotics just starting.
  • Calming and de-stress products mainly in beverage format. IMG-20120309-00040
  • Sexual vitality and hormonal regulation (e.g.PMS, menopause)
  • Fibre and its link to weight management was prevalent. Fibre seen as cure for all (regulate glucose levels = better sleep).
  • Beauty from the inside – digestible collagen, bars with berries promoting good skin.
  • Immune and gut health were prominent but not linked.
  • Natural energy – tea leaves, coffee beans. Adding caffeine to water drinks.
  • Start to see sports products that do more than just hydrate, carbo for energy and protein for recovery. Including plant extracts for additional functions (e.g. turmeric root, blueberry, grape seed) around antioxidant role. Most have before, during and after formulations.

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In terms of formulations:

  • A lot of dry powders for single serve drinks – seen in a variety of markets from sports nutrition, supplements to normal consumer beverage (cordial powders etc).
  • No single products – always part of in a range – something for each occasion. Not just shots but up to 400ml beverages
  • Organic nut bars are everywhere.
  • Beverage companies moving into bars.


One thing that has always bothered me about natural products is their lack of scientific validation.

Currently products in the natural products market succeed by having an association with scientific literature or studies, matched with ND/ MD endorsement and ALOT of marketing. That’s all they need to do as the US consumers accepts this. ND? You may be thinking. I was too. It stands for Naturopathic doctors. Something very very different to a MD, medical doctor. The problem…they act and portray themselves as the latter. Look at the image below of the doctor. On the right you see his name on his lab coat. The stethoscope carefully covers the end of the ‘N’, so from a distance you actually think it reads MD (in addition to the lab coat and stethoscope stereotype). This may be my mind running in overdrive but I thought this was too much of a coincidence and I believe summarises all that is bad about the industry…deception.

All products I came across stated….

“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

While it is good they have abided by law and disclosed this on the product, it seems like as long as this is stated (in small print), they can make what ever claims they want on the product. This is a worry as majority of consumers cannot understand what the claims mean in light of this statement i.e. not scientific validated.

From the view of someone looking to introduce a new product into this market, ‘science’ is crucial. However, I am unsure if validated, robust scientific evidence specially associated with the product (and not just referenced studies undertaken by others) would aid in the success of a new product. I fear that it would simply not rise above the noise as the consumer cannot distinguish between the different types of scientific evidence.

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Visit to Waikato Innovation Park

This week I got the opportunity to go down and check out the Waikato Innovation Park (WIP), located just outside Hamilton CBD. WIP is a hub of Ag-Biotech businesses mixed with support services, 50+ businesses in total. It is also the home of the ‘AgBio Cluster’.

In the area is the Ruakura Research Centre where Plant and Food Research, AgResearch, Landcare and Dexcel sites are based. The University of Waikato is also down the road and their tech transfer office, Waikatolink, base themselves at the Park as well.

Other than the main building, a second building (Phase 2) is also up and running with a cornerstone tenant, Tetra Pak. And under construction in a third building is a spray drying facility which forms the Waikato component of the Government-sponsored New Zealand Food Innovation Network. It is envisioned that it will be mainly used to produce infant formula and fruit and vegetable powders.

WIP is more developed than I personally thought it was before checking it out for myself. Walking down main street of the building you certainly feel a great buzz in the air where chance opportunities are the norm and entrepreneurial minds are collaborating. Hope to back again soon.



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The main building.




A tree-lined entrance into the Park!


Components of the Ag Bio Cluster.



Graeme @

A wealth of food and beverage market data.

Since taking up a business development role at Plant and Food Research a few weeks ago, I’ve been reading a lot into NZ’s Food and Beverage industry, particularly nutraceuticals and functional food. And I’ve come across some great resources produced by MED and NZTE.

The Ministry of Economic Development has recently commissioned the Food and Beverage Information Report.

This five year project, not only gives overview of the NZ food and beverage industry but also investigates in depth, several key sectors e.g. seafood, wine, processed foods, dairy, functional food and nutraceuticals. The functional food report is particularly impressive because it provides some clarity around an industry that is quite fragmented and fraught with product differentiation and credibility issues. This report is the first to really define and quantify the industry. There are also reports on specific global markets ( only Singapore to date).

To add to this wealth of market data, NZTE has also released a number of market intelligence reports for the global food and beverage industry over the past couple of years, many just being released over the past month. For example the F&B market in Australia, Malaysia, China, functional food in Korea, health food market in China, the list continues. However I’m hanging out for a Japanese F&B market report to be released.


Graeme @