New project explores options for commercialising hemp-derived high-value food products

MIHI (Movers in Hemp Innovation) is a collaboration of Māori and non-Māori entities seeking to grow the hemp industry in New Zealand.  The MIHI business cluster has received a $100,000 Māori Food & Beverage Development Grant from the High-Value Nutrition (HVN) National Science Challenge including co-funding from MIHI to undertake a 6-month project to initiate market research into North America for hemp-derived food products.

The project will include a review of the regulatory landscape and options for commercialising hemp-derived products which are appealing to consumers, as well as investigating new product development.

The approach to this project is one based on whanaungatanga (collaboration) and tino rangatiratanga (self-determination), which are values held strongly by MIHI.

“This approach of collaboration and self-determination will leverage and utilise the expertise and knowledge required to develop and commercialise unique hemp food products,” says Richard Jones, MIHI Coordinator.  “It also provides a platform that enables Māori to lead, create and deliver high-value hemp derived products that incorporate Māori values and culture,” he says.

The project intends to deliver on outcomes that contribute to the sustainable future and well-being of the whenua (land) and the people.

“This project supports the HVN mission by focusing on creation of new hemp food products that emphasise the health benefits derived from the plant to improve well-being,” says Joanne Todd, HVN National Science Challenge Director.  “This also aligns with customer trends of seeking healthy products, free from animal products or chemical additives,” she says.

“This project also supports the intent of the HVN strategy by contributing to the growth of the New Zealand food and beverage export market through the creation and development of new hemp-derived products unique to New Zealand, and the HVN focus on supporting Māori owned businesses and indigenous innovation,” says Ms Todd.

Through collaboration, research and mātauranga the project will be accelerated and accessible to all MIHI group members.  The knowledge gained will inform new product development incorporating an approach of improving the well-being and health of consumers as well as food provenance.  It will also inform future research that will provide the evidence needed to validate the health benefits and unique value of a hemp product.  Once developed, the products will not only increase the growth of the hemp industry in New Zealand but also the value of New Zealand as a food exporter.

Not ones to muck around MIHI has bought together a strong team of researchers led by Poutama’s former International Project Manager, Rachel Maidment.  Rachel has recently returned from a 3 year stint as the Consulate General to Guangzhou, China.  It’s great to have Rachel as part of the MIHI whanau.

For the market research, Rachel will be assisted by a kiwi based out of Washington DC, Elizabeth Dixon.  Elizabeth will be attending Natural Products Expo West one of the world’s largest natural, organic and healthy products trade show.  At the show she will get a first-hand look as well as be able to engage with producers and see where F&B trends are leading in the hemp & CBD space.

For the regulatory research MIHI will be assisted by Michelle Cubbit.  Michelle has experience in global regulatory activities in all relevant national and international markets and across all product.

The HVN Challenge is a mission-led programme of innovative research into the health and wellbeing attributes of New Zealand produced foods for our major export markets.  The Challenge will over the next five years fund a number of projects through a competitive contestable funding process, and has recently approved other innovative projects that will be completed together with businesses partners.  Read more through clicking here.

High-Value Nutrition is one of the eleven National Science Challenges.  The Challenge has a $45.6 million budgeted research investment over the next five years.

The MIHI Research Whanau

Rachel Maidment (Ngati Kahungunu) – Research and Marketing Consultant

Rachel Maidment is the Director of Navigate, a NZ based company that provides consultancy and research services.  Rachel has a B.Sc LLB (Hons) from the University of Auckland, and has worked for a wide range of clients in senior private and public sector roles.

Navigate has previously assisted New Zealand entities with offshore research projects including a comprehensive two-phase multi-market research project for Plant and Food Research focused on berries, and a multi-market study focused on Mānuka honey.

Elizabeth Dixon – Market Research Consultant

Elizabeth provides consultancy services on international trade, market access and agricultural policy issues.  Recent clients include the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand and DairyNZ, for whom she also worked as National Policy Manager from 2011-2016.

Elizabeth previously worked in the New Zealand foreign service with a trade policy and trade negotiations focus.

Elizabeth is based in Washington DC.

Michelle Cubitt – Regulatory Consultant

Michelle is an independent regulatory consultant operating under “Smart Regulatory Services” providing strategic and technical solutions in an easy to understand way.  Michelle has over 10 years’ experience in global regulatory activities in all relevant national and international markets (Asia/Pacific, Europe and North America) across all product categories (supplements, foods, cosmetics, and medical devices).