Forget the credit crunch and oil, the new global crisis is food - and we're going to hear a lot more about it in the future, says Professor Paul Moughan from Massey University.

Moughan was the keynote speaker at this morning's New New Zealand Forum held by Westpac and Massey University, where he discussed the pressure that expected population growth was likely to put on food availability as well as the opportunities this provided for New Zealand.

"We have an amazing opportunity in this country to help educate the world in all those areas that are going to be required to meet this [food] challenge," Moughan said. "The Minister for Science talks about high-tech manufacturing and the need for New Zealand to get into computers and all this stuff, but we're good at agriculture - we should be experts in IT and agriculture," he said. "We have a comparative advantage and we need to build on this."

Currently the world has around seven billion people and by 2050 this is estimated to reach nine or ten billion with the bulk of this growth coming from developing countries.

"It's estimated that the world needs to produce something like 70 per cent more food by 2050," Moughan said "That's a large increase in food production - almost a doubling. But we don't only have to produce more, we have to produce better food - in the sense of more nutriticious food," he said.

According to the World Health Organisation, close to a billion people in the world are undernourished, and with food and beverage New Zealand's largest export sector, the country was well placed to innovate around food production to be more efficient.

"In 2014 we produced $30 billion worth of agricultural food exports which was 59 per cent of total export outputs," Moughan said.

"Food and agriculture is the engine of New Zealand's economic growth and it will remain that way for some time to come. "There's a real opportunity I believe to boost innovation capacity in food production."

Moughan said New Zealand was already leading the way in areas such as functional foods - foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. One such example which Moughan had helped develop was a product called Anlene. The milk product had been clinically designed to help prevent osteoporosis.

According to Moughan, New Zealand's agricultural and scientific expertise put it in the perfect position to take advantage of the opportunities and be leading in the sector.

(Source NZ Herald, Holly Ryan )


05/12/19 - Update BMB

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