We are working with research and industry partners to explore ways New Zealand can utilise precision fermentation to generate high-value alternative sources of protein which compliments our traditional animal protein economy.


Powerful technology

Precision fermentation is being seen as a strong technological platform to help transform food production systems, taking ingredient production into the future by enriching New Zealand's protein trade through a low-emission circular bioeconomy.

The fermentation process uses microbes as cell factories to produce proteins and other nutrients that are functionally equivalent to traditional animal sources.

Precision fermentation uses directly modified microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria to convert simple carbohydrates into specific target molecules of proteins or lipids. We propose to turn recovered bioresources from the primary industries, forestry and forage, into low-cost fermentation feedstocks for these microbes, optimise the microbial production systems, grow single-cell protein biomass at scale for spinoff as a high protein feed, and design precision fermentation around proteins and products that are in global demand.

NZ can participate and benefit during this transition by implementing legislative, scientific and infrastructure solutions.

Scott Knowles, AgResearch Senior Research Scientist

Innovative thinking

Our research will look to invent and support a new precision fermentation sector tailored to the NZ context, in particular leveraging abundant and underutilised side-stream bioresources recovered from our primary industry.

In New Zealand, the key barrier is having access to a suitable material that is both economically and ecologically beneficial. Australia uses sugarcane and Europe uses sugar beet, a viable option in New Zealand may be forestry milling sawdust.

New tech won't displace animal agriculture

Opinion piece by Li Day, Food and Fibre and International Sector Manager, on precision fermentation

Find out more

Future forward

In the current environment we are facing key challenges such as feedstock selection, appropriate scale for NZ manufacturing and suitability for food production, AgResearch and partners are looking to:

  • convert recovered bioresources into fermentation feedstocks by chemoenzymatic conversion, creating local substitutes for imported sugar
  • develop microbial expression systems that are adapted for efficient feedstock utilisation
  • design scalable processes around export-quality protein targets that are equivalent to traditional animal sources, with the support of digital decision making and sustainability assessment tools for optimisation and control of precision fermentation manufacturing.

These outputs are a chance to showcase the liberalisation of NZ’s regulatory position on genetic engineering and provide the foundation for a diverse new sector.

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