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AgritechNZ keen to help scale up NZ food production

AgritechNZ keen to help scale up NZ food production

April 15, 2019

With the need to feed the world’s population of 9.8 billion people by 2050, AgritechNZ is looking at ways New Zealand can scale up its food production to meet the growing global demand.

AgritechNZ chief executive Peter Wren-Hilton says global food systems will need to transform at an unprecedented speed and scale.

“We are seeking to explore the power of innovation and technology to meet the greater demand on food production,” he says.

“We also have to take into account sustainability and climate change; healthy diets, meat alternatives and nutrition; market efficiency; and shaping a national strategy for the future of food.”

Discussions and issues relating to New Zealand agritech will be on the agenda at events during Techweek next month.

Technology is transforming the way Kiwis grow and sell food as every piece of the supply chain is up for disruption.

“By 2050, the global population will demand 70 percent more food than is consumed today. Feeding these numbers nutritiously and sustainably will require substantial improvements to the global food system.

“We want to improve and increase our food production through better technology, such as robotics, and we will do that with more collaboration, innovation, and connected capital from overseas.

“Agritech could be destined to save the New Zealand economy because of the tremendous worldwide demand for food.

“There is growing evidence that the abundance of processed foods is the underlying cause of a global obesity epidemic which is also impacting New Zealand which is ranked third worst in the OECD for obesity.

“Combining two of New Zealand’s leading sectors, agriculture and technology, shows just how we can improve New Zealand farming, food production and health while also growing our exports. We are on the cusp of some massive and exciting tech changes in our lives.

“There are some amazing agritech developments in Silicon Valley such as Granular Software a farm operations startup that was recently purchased by DuPont for $US300 million, or the synthetic protein companies like Clara Foods for eggs, Memphis Meats for beef and Finless Foods for fish.”

In New Zealand, award-winning Tauranga company Robotics Plus has an automated apple packaging system that will be able to help US growers address labour shortages.

New Zealand is well positioned to meet increasing demands for specialty and healthy foods. Miro berries, a Maori owned and driven company, is deploying the latest agritech in New Zealand to build high value blueberry production to replicate our success in kiwifruit and meet domestic and global demand for the superfood.

New Zealand is one of the top 10 world’s biggest blueberry producers. About 700 ha of blueberry crops are grown in New Zealand with expectations the export industry could be worth more than $100 million in coming years.

Wren-Hilton says New Zealand is achieving good agritech export growth rates relative to other nations. Global agritech investment is expanding rapidly, with investment in agritech firms in 2018 was estimated at more than $US2.36 billion.

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