New Zealand Embassy Tokyo, Japan

New Zealand and Japan explore collaboration in functional food science

The Innovation to Industry Functional Food Seminar (I2I) was held in Tokyo 20-24 May 2013.  The New Zealand delegation comprised representatives from the Riddet Institute, Plant and Food Research Limited, AgResearch, Callaghan Innovation, Massey University, University of Auckland, Otago University, Fonterra, ANZCO, Manuka Health, Nutrizeal, Fonterra, Separex, and Douglas Pharmaceuticals. 

The I2I event was a forum to educate NZ companies on the intricacies of the Japanese functional food industry, promote NZ functional food foods (including beverages, ingredients and nutraceuticals) to potential Japanese clients, and highlight NZ functional food research capability to potential Japanese research collaborators. 

Functional food/beverage is one of the areas where NZ and Japan have a history of successful science and innovation engagement over a number of years. Government has funded several successful delegations to Japan which have generated strong cooperative links between the two countries. The New Zealand Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) also supports a bilateral funding scheme focusing on this topic (MBIE - Japan Science and Technology Agency: Strategic International Cooperative Programme).  MBIE was the source of funding for the I2I event.

Japan has a large, mature functional food/beverage market which is constantly seeking innovative ideas/technologies and new ingredients/products.  There is a wide range of on-going collaborations with Japan by scientists from New Zealand universities and research institutes, and the consensus is that Japanese companies tend to show very strong interest in unique NZ-derived ingredients and products with science-based health benefits.  The I2I Conference, coordinated by Plant and Food Research (PFR) with the assistance from Japanese researchers and newspaper/industry magazine company (Food Chemical News), has built usefully on this engagement and offered new avenues for collaboration in functional foods/beverages.  It also provided NZ organisations and companies with a useful opportunity to gain intelligence on Japanese market trends and regulatory framework, and establish connections with Japanese companies for research and commercialisation collaboration.  Approximately 120 Japanese company representatives attended the event and an evening reception hosted by the Ambassador at the New Zealand Embassy.  

NZTE and MFAT were co-sponsors of the I2I Conference.  NZTE promoted the event through its network and Tokyo Trade Commissioner Ben Wilson presented to NZ delegates on the first day. 

You can receive more detailed information on the I2I event or New Zealand capability in the functional food sector more broadly from Stefan Corbett at the New Zealand Embassy.

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