What are we researching?
Synthetic foods, cultured foods, engineered foods call them what you like, but it seems inevitable that these foods will increasingly become a common part of our diet over the next 5 to 10 years. Our increasing awareness of the need to reduce our environment footprint as well as exploring alternatives to animal protein has led to the expansion of synthetic, cultured and engineered foods.
European and American studies have found that replacing conventional livestock meat production with synthetic meat production will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 78-96 percent, land use by 99 percent, water use by 82-96 percent, and energy use by 7-45 percent, depending on the meat product. In addition synthetic meat production does not require the use of antibiotics to maintain the health of livestock, reducing the risk of antibiotic resistance developing among bacterial diseases.
Alternative food producers such as synthetic meat is still in its infancy and substantial work needs to be done to overcome technical, cultural and regulatory challenges to move into commercial production of their products. At the same time synthetic dairy producers are already looking to expand their production facilities as they move to full commercial production of their products.
BERL is actively exploring the impact of alternative foods on our economy.
Our research will focus on examining the potential threats and opportunities to New Zealand’s economy, in particular our agricultural sector. We will have in depth discussions with the agricultural industry, including large stakeholders; along with food and agriculture scientists and researchers; and food futurists. These discussions will inform the development of a small number of scenarios that will showcase the potential threats and opportunities and the impact on New Zealand’s economy over the next 10 years.
We aim to have completed this research by June 2019.