New Zealand's alternative proteins sector has huge potential, but is fragmented and lacks clear leadership, according to a new report.
The report was done by FoodHQ, a group which represents the country's food innovation organisations, and was based on input from 185 people working in the broader sector. Products considered to be emerging proteins include plant-based foods and beverages, insect foods and lab-grown proteins.
FoodHQ chief executive Abby Thompson said while there was huge potential to meet global demand for emerging proteins, the industry faced significant challenges.
"New Zealand is currently missing a co-ordinated approach that is going to help drive some of addressing infrastructure gaps that is going to really help with the attraction and retention and development of talented scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs who can really drive some of this stuff."
She said a disconnect between different points in the supply chain was also hindering progress.
"We've heard a lot of stories of farmers who are keen to look at diversification of their food production and their income streams, that they're looking to put crops in the ground, but then they don't know what to do with them.
"On the other end we heard of people who are making products to send overseas to consumers and they would love to use New Zealand grown raw materials but they can't find them."
Thompson said in the US, the market value for plant protein was estimated at $10.3 billion last year.
In order to compete internationally, more research was needed to understand what consumers wanted from these products and how New Zealand could deliver them in a unique way that attracted premium prices.
She said emerging proteins were a diversification opportunity, which could complement New Zealand's traditional animal-based protein sectors.
"While our dairy products, meat, wine, apples and kiwifruit will underpin New Zealand's food exports for many years to come, we must explore the opportunities to continue adding diversity to our food product offering in order to meet global demand."