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A Silicon Valley of foods for health

Transforming New Zealand into a Silicon Valley of foods for health

Embargoed until Wednesday April 13th 10am

World experts in food-for-health are coming together in Auckland next week for the High-Value Nutrition symposium as part of an initiative to try and boost New Zealand’s economy, by transforming our country into a “Silicon Valley of Foods for Health”.

The plan to take New Zealand from a food bowl to a specialist of high-value nutritional foods is the goal of this National Science Challenge– a collaboration between science and the food industry. The High-Value Nutrition challenge has a target of boosting our exports by $1billion p.a. over the next ten years.

International experts in nutrition and global megatrends are among the lineup of speakers who will address the inaugural Science Symposium – Foods of the Future, Transforming New Zealand into a Silicon Valley of Foods for Health at the Villa Maria Vineyard on April 13th and 14th.
They include:

• Professor Bruce German, a functional food expert from the University of Davis, California. Professor German believes New Zealand can lead the world in food-for-health because of its unique agricultural enterprise and ability to bring science and industry together in integrated “farm-to-fork” initiatives, putting it at the forefront of what he calls the Biological Century.

• Dr Stefan Hajkowicz – a leading Australian expert in strategy and foresight and author of the recently published Global Megatrends – Seven Patterns of Change Shaping our Future. Dr Hajkowicz says New Zealand should apply its tourism’s “100% Pure” campaign to the agricultural industry, utilise its “clean-green” image, extend it to “clean-green-healthy” and back it with science to add a premium to our exports. He believes the New Zealand food industry is well positioned to take advantage of the rising Asian wealth and the digital revolution.

Leading New Zealand scientists will also detail the science behind this national plan and include:

• Professor Sally Poppitt, Principal Investigator of the Metabolic Health programme, who is investigating the TOFI profile (Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside) as a means to identify and develop high-value foods. As Asia experiences a surge in health issues because of its change to a western diet, Professor Poppitt is researching why the Asian population are susceptible to looking thin… but dangerously storing fat around their vital organs. Professor Poppitt is based at the University of Auckland. (

• Dr Elizabeth Forbes-Blom, Principal Investigator of the Immune Defence programme, who is analysing people’s response to the flu vaccine to establish how the gut microbiota may affect an individual’s immunity, so it can be optimised with high-value foods. Dr Forbes-Blom is based at the Malaghan Institute in Wellington. (

• Dr Nicole Roy, Principal Investigator for the Gastrointestinal Health programme, is working with Professor Richard Gearry at the University of Otago, Christchurch analysing patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome as part of research to find foods that increase gut comfort. (

High-Value Nutrition is one of eleven National Science Challenges. The challenge has an $84million budgeted investment over the next ten years. Its mission is to establish New Zealand as an international leader in food–for-health and help grow exports by $1billion by 2025.

For more information on the event please go to our website


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