Plant & Food Research
|Rangahau Ahumāra Kai|
|Headquarters||120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham, Auckland|
Plant & Food Research (Māori: Rangahau Ahumāra Kai) is a New Zealand Crown Research Institute (CRI). Its purpose is to enhance the value and productivity of New Zealand's horticultural, arable, seafood and food & beverage industries. The interests of the institute are based in horticulture, arable and seafood research, specifically in the areas of sustainable production, bioprotection, elite genetics & intelligent breeding, food and health science and biomaterials.
The institute was formed on 1 December 2008 by merging existing CRIs HortResearch and Crop and Food Research. Plant & Food has over 900 staff based at sites throughout New Zealand as well as science and business development staff working in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Areas of Research
Conventional breeding – Over 300 hectares of research orchards and farms across New Zealand plus unique germplasm collections for key crops.
Consumer and producer trait targets – Health, colour, texture, flavour, storage, flowering, shape, dwarfing, pest and disease resistance.
Smart packaging – Biosensors and consumer-friendly packaging including ripeSense, now marketed by Ripesense Limited.
Environmentally friendly pest and disease treatments and grading technologies – Heat treatment (water or air) for insect disinfestation or pathogen reduction. Near Infra-Red (NIR) and non-destructive firmness grading technologies.
Ripening control and monitoring – Ethylene treatments (pre-ripening or conditioning), Ethylene antagonists SmartFresh .
Freshcut innovation – Technology that supports fresh-cut solutions with added food safety.
Sustainability & Bioprotection
Carbon efficiency – Whole lifecycle analysis for key crops including kiwifruit and wine.
Soil ecology – Soil and water management and modelling. Risk assessment.
Crop management tools – Software tools that optimise inputs and interventions. CropLogic Potato Calculator and Spray Plan Manager.
Integrated pest and disease management – IPM and IFP systems.
Non-chemical pest and disease control – Biocontrols, pheromone-based insect mating disruption and trapping, Sterile Insect Technique.
Insect biology - Biology, life history, behaviour and ecology of insects and mites.
Food & Health
Functional foods – Plant-based foods and food ingredients that offer consumers health benefits beyond basic nutrition.
Superfruits and high health vegetable cultivars – New, novel, natural plant cultivars with enhanced levels of health-promoting compounds.
Nutrigenomics and gastronomics – Customised foods tailored to the needs of individuals based on their genetic profile.
Sensory evaluation – Understanding and predicting future global consumer, market and technology trends through research into consumer behaviour and preferences.
Major FRST Funded Research Programmes
Better Border Biosecurity – in association with AgResearch, Scion, the National Centre for Advanced Bio-Protection Technologies, MAF Biosecurity, the Department of Conservation, Environmental Risk Management Authority New Zealand and the Forest Biosecurity Research Council.
A collaborative science programme delivering science-based solutions, new tools, technologies and knowledge to protect New Zealand's terrestrial plants. The programme supports the international competitiveness of New Zealand's export industries and protects natural, recreational and amenity estates from exotic pests and diseases.
Engineering Marine Molecules
Development of new extraction and molecular modification technologies for the industrial manufacture of marine protein and lipid products for use in food, biomaterials and nutraceuticals.
Exploiting opportunities from Horticultural Genomics
Identification of the genetic mechanisms involved in key plant traits to inform breeding programmes, including the establishment of technologies required for gene identification and marker characterisation.
Development of novel varieties and technologies for the high-value ornamental market.
Food-microbe-host interactions – in association with AgResearch
The development of a technological platform to generate knowledge about the interactions between food, the intestinal microbiome and the human genome. This knowledge will be used to develop new, value-added, export-focused SMART foods that deliver improved health, performance and well-being.
From Tools to Traits
Development of non-food and new food products with novel functional, health or colour properties derived from an improved knowledge and understanding of the carbohydrate and carotenoid pigment pathways of plants. Lifestyle Foods
Developing knowledge, tools and concepts to enable industry to deliver healthy products for consumers, initially in the form of convenient snack foods, with good sensory appeal and targeted energy release capability.
The development of high value vegetables that can be produced sustainably and exported to world markets, including development of product concepts with enhanced consumer values and underpinned by new and improved production technologies that support economic and environmental sustainability.
Higher Value Seafoods
Increasing the value of seafood products through increased harvest recovery and creating niche products based on New Zealand seafood.
Kiwifruit Research Consortium – in association with ZESPRI Group Limited
Development of plant breeding, screening and evaluation technologies to increase number of cultivars developed in the breeding programme with reduced time to market.
Land Use Change and Intensification - in association with AgResearch
Developing improved tools and land management practices and decision support tools that enhance the productive capacity of agricultural land while retaining soil and groundwater quality.
Looking into fruit
Development of tools and technologies to measure quality attributes of fruit pre-harvest, reducing harvest losses and labour costs while maximising yield.
Low-impact disease control
Development of purpose-built disease management systems for the horticulture industry, incorporating biological, genetic and fungicidal controls applied according to disease risk.
Identifying components of berryfruit with added health benefits and developing customised berryfruit products with high flavour and validated health-enhancing attributes.
Determining how food and food composition affects health based on genetic information, including developing gene-specific foods that prevent, control or cure disease. The initial target for the programme is Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel disorders.
Pipfruit 2020 - a juicy future
An integrated research programme developed to underpin industry strategies for economic transformation through enhanced quality of fruit products and services, including building an understanding of consumer preferences and applying this knowledge to breeding programmes.
Premium kiwifruit: growing the future
Building fundamental understanding of carbon partitioning and development of fruit, leading to the development of innovative new kiwifruit technologies, to increase productivity and fruit quality.
Roots for Sustainability - in association with AgResearch
Identifying germplasm resources for breeding new and improved pastoral and arable crop cultivars with root systems that improve water and nutrient uptake, and reduce the impact of productive systems on the environment.
Development of cost-effective horticultural packaging systems with ripeness indicators that conform to global food contact regulations. Sustainable IPM
Reducing the reliance of New Zealand horticulture on broad-spectrum and persistent insecticides by developing alternative and sustainable means of controlling pests, and delivering produce that achieves the most stringent market requirements.
Developing tools and knowledge to quantify and value the function, quality and resilience of New Zealand’s productive soils and landscapes across a range of land uses for land management and policy purposes.
Taste the Future
Development of novel kiwifruit varieties to achieve premium prices, including maintaining an elite germplasm collection and identifying novel compounds and genes that can be used in producing high value flavour ingredients for foods and beverages.
Developing innovative foods based on combining the health-enhancing properties from fruits and vegetables.
- "The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd". The Treasury. 23 September 2015.
- "Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited, New Zealand". Directory of Official Information. Ministry of Justice. 2013.
- Mapp, Wayne (1 December 2008). "Minister welcomes new Crown Research Institute" (Press release).