We are developing new technologies to accelerate the evolution of microbial strains and multi-strain communities, coupling with directed deep phenotyping, to enhance flavours and textures of fermented foods.

Advancing food fermentation

This research programme looks to discover new - and non-GMO - microbes for food fermentation. We validate these microbes for commercial application using our state-of-the-art high throughput technologies.

We are developing high quality fermented dairy products that can meet the expectation and preferences of the target export markets, particularly the Chinese market.

We have developed an accelerated evolution protocol for microbes used for food fermentation; this includes a range of high throughput assays to facilitate the selection and enhancement of microbes to improve the flavours and textures of fermented foods.

Supporting the food industry

We support the food industry to grow exports of niche and high value fermented food products.

Microbial biotechnology and fermentation

  • Non-GMO Accelerated Evolution Technology
  • High throughput optimisation and assessment of nutrient utilisation profiling and industrially relevant phenotypes (e.g. pH, temperature, EPS, etc)
  • Processing design and production of fermented foods at pilot scale

Taste and texture

  • High throughput measurements of taste responses and viscosity profiling
  • In-situ evaluation for optimum performance of bacterial fermentation process
  • Sensory panel evaluation and consumer preference for target market or ethnic group (Massey University FEAST)

Unique culture collection and mega data resources

Food grade culture collection libraries are being established and novel data sets for evaluation of sensory attributes associated with the functional traits of microbes are being developed. 

We also aim to predict how people will experience and enjoy new fermented food by mathematically modelling the taste compounds and textures of model foods. This is based on molecular profiling and responses of human taste receptors in cell culture as well as consumer acceptance testing.  

Sharing our research with former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

In September 2020, former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited food science and technology leaders in Palmerston North.

As part of this visit, the AgResearch Fermented Foods team shared their research into "Accelerated Evolution" of new fermented foods with a taste test.

Programme Team

Members of this multi-disciplinary research team are based at Te Ohu Rangahau Kai, our joint facility with Massey University in Palmerston North, AgResearch Lincoln Campus, Massey University and Callaghan Innovation. 

This work was supported by an Endeavour Research Programme grant from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, New Zealand (Contract no. C10X1707), and in collaboration with our key partners.

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