The Specialty Grains & Pulses Report identifies opportunities to expand the grain and pulse crops grown in New Zealand. The research team identified six crops with high potential for New Zealand farmers: soy, hemp, chickpeas, oats, buckwheat and quinoa. The six crops are all foods for which there is strong demand from both consumers and manufacturers, as well as existing capability or strong potential for developing them into food products. And they all have minimal environmental impacts, and in some cases environmental benefits. The researchers have identified a number of key next steps to enabling the next stages of development, spanning 6 months to 3 years.
The researchers gathered information on a wide range of grain and pulse crops and then applied six ‘filters’ to assess them. They started with consumer insights; getting a sense of where the demand actually is. This ranged from food manufacturers who value local ingredients as part of their own brand stories, to a growing group of conscious consumers, who are prepared to pay more for foods that are sustainably grown in New Zealand.
The researchers then looked at the grains and pulses we import now, and asked: Is there an opportunity to replace these with NZ-grown alternatives?
Third, they looked at the risks to both biosecurity and food safety posed by importing these grains and pulses.
The fourth filter was to understand the existing processing capability and potential for adding value. And filters five and six looked at the existing knowledge of how to grow the crops and their environmental impact.
The researchers report that using these filters has highlighted that in most cases, the challenge is not ‘Can we grow these crops?’.
Rather, the challenge is in understanding deeply how to fit all the pieces of the value chain together. The report notes:
‚ÄúThe challenge to enabling either expansion or introduction of some of these grains and pulses lies in understanding consumer demand, and the availability of processing capability to transform the raw materials into desired food products to match that demand.’
“The resonating message as we look across each of these filters is that it could be any single, or perhaps a combination of more than one of these aspects that could create a barrier to enabling a specific grain or pulse to become a viable land use option in NZ. Resolving these barriers will require dedicated resource and funding.”
Report for Our Land and Water