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Research and development relationship about to pay dividends

16 January 2015

Research and development relationship about to pay dividends

Goodman Fielder's two and half-year relationship with the Riddet Institute has led to the filing of three patents; one for a baking product with enhanced health properties and the other two for dairy products with improved sensory and health attributes.

Goodman Fielder's Research and Innovation Senior Manager, Dr Shantanu Das, says the relationship has worked well for both Goodman Fielder and for the Riddet Institute.

"The commercialisation of the products should occur in the next 12 months, then they'll be on the shelf and the public will judge for themselves, until then we can't talk about their unique properties."

As one of the largest food companies in Australasia, Goodman Fielder decided to create a research and innovation office - head hunting Dr Das who was then the Innovation Manager at the Riddet Institute.

Goodman Fielder Chief R&D and Quality Officer, Dr. Andre Teixeira says that the company aims to be the leading and most innovative local food company.

"Previously, innovation in FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) came mostly from a marketing perspective. However, we realised that to develop new products that consumers will want in the future we needed to bring science to the table. So we created our research and innovation team to allow us to fulfil our aspiration to deliver products for consumers’ future needs.

"Of course, most consumers don’t even know what they will want in the future. In some ways, it is a bit like the Smartphone; before it was built no-one knew they wanted or needed it, but now that it's here, everyone wants and needs one."

Dr Das helped build Goodman Fielder's research and innovation team which includes employees in both New Zealand and Australia.

"Our strategy is connected innovation. We established relationships with science institutes to deliver products that make sense for the consumer," he says.

"Given this, it was logical for a food leader like Goodman Fielder to associate with an internationally renowned scientific institute. The Riddet Institute is truly world class and it made sense to form a relationship and use their skills. It's about combining science and technology with commercial reality to drive innovation."

Dr Das says his team is focused on delivering quality healthier products for consumers.

"We're directed to develop new technology that will deliver a range of unique and differentiated products across our three categories; dairy, baking and grocery. We're also focused on developing products that are hard to copy; we aim to own the technology.

"We follow consumer insights however we acknowledge that we need to connect science to future consumer goods to meet the demand and desire of the consumers in the future!

"Key drivers of our innovation are taste, health, convenience and cultural relevance. We use differentiated technologies to cater to these key consumer drivers through new and differentiated product offerings."

The relationship with Riddet started two and half years ago. In the first year a Riddet researcher was seconded to Goodman Fielder where she worked in their laboratory focusing on a collaborative project co-funded by Callaghan Innovation. Since then she has gone on to full-time employment as a Scientist with Goodman Fielder.

This year, Dr Das says, we took a different approach and through government funding we seconded a Goodman Fielder scientist to the Riddet Institute to carry out scientific investigations on campus.

Riddet Institute Co-Director, Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan, says the Riddet Institute works with a number of food manufacturers allowing them access to science and scientists to create new and improved products and to support high-value food manufacturing.

"We've been working together with Goodman Fielder for two years and our relationship is strong. We both can see further opportunities here."

"At its core, our relationship is about academia working closely with food manufacturers and producers to create high value nutritional products which will help New Zealand Inc. achieve its goals of growing a high wage economy and creating a place where talented people want to live."

The Riddet Institute is a Government Centre of Research Excellence that strengthens connections between the food industry and research partners to enhance New Zealand's reputation for excellence in food and sciences. It is New Zealand's premier centre for fundamental and strategic scientific research. Its multi-disciplinary approach, at the intersection of food material science, novel food processing, human nutrition and gastrointestinal biology, is having a direct and positive effect on the development of innovative and healthier foods.

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