Global funding announced for the Riddet Institute

The Proteos project brings science and methodologies to the complex task of describing food protein quality.

Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan

The Riddet Institute’s Proteos project has just received $NZ 2.6 mil of further funding, bringing total funding for this global science programme to nearly $NZ 5 million over the last four years.

The Riddet Institute, hosted by Massey University, undertakes fundamental research in food science and nutrition and is one of New Zealand’s ten Centres of Research Excellence (CoRE). The Proteos project is a global international consortium that includes the University of Illinois, USA, Agro Paris Tech in France and Wageningen University, in the Netherlands. It is investigating approaches to solve the global challenge of the rapidly growing demand for proteins and the Riddet Institute’s role encompasses the exploration of protein quality and comparing foods for their nutritional value to humans.

The Global Dairy Platform (GDP) in Chicago USA announced the funding this week. GDP is a network of dairy organisations that represents nearly one third of the world’s supply of milk and is coordinating the funding for Proteos across different sectors of the global food industry.

Leading the worldwide project is Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan, from Massey University and Riddet Institute principal investigator. The Proteos project is about bringing the best science and cutting-edge methodologies to the complex task of describing food protein quality.

“Not all food proteins are the same when it comes to their delivery of essential amino acids to the body’s cells. The novel technologies being used in Proteos are helping to develop a new database of global protein sources and rests heavily on work over many years at the Riddet Institute and Massey University. The research was in response to a call from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and will have an enduring influence on human nutrition globally,” Professor Moughan says.

Massey University Provost Professor Giselle Byrnes says she “was delighted with the announcement of the second phase of the work and the substantial funding. This work is not only important for New Zealand but for the whole world, it is wonderful it is being led from Massey University”.

Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh, director of the Riddet Institute commented that the funding, following soon after the recent refunding by the Tertiary Education Comission of the Riddet Institute CoRE, is a strong endorsement of the success of science underpinning the future of the food industry. “Economists in the USA have independently assessed the impact of Proteos and found that the work is worth $US 1 billion to the USA dairy industry alone. In New Zealand, the impact of the work is projected to add some $NZ0.32 b pa to New Zealand’s dairy export returns – let alone our other protein exports. The real prize here, however, is that our science will have made an enduring contribution at the highest level to a new FAO endorsed protein quality database. This tool will be invaluable for future generations in their assessment of global diets”, said Professor Singh.

The research programme in New Zealand is led by Dr Suzanne Hodgkinson from the Riddet Institute but involves several scientists from across the organisation. The Institute integrates partner organisations Massey University, The University of Auckland, University of Otago, AgResearch and Plant & Food Research. The research will generate data for nearly 100 foods, vital for supply of proteins to humans of all ages.

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