The awarding of the Prime Minister’s Science Prize to Professors Paul Moughan and Harjinder Singh, co-directors of the Riddet Institute, is deserved recognition for the pair’s world-leading food-science research, according to Zespri General Manager of Innovation Dr David Tanner.
The Prime Minister’s Science Prize is a $500,000 prize given annually to scientists in recognition of a transformative scientific discovery or achievement which has led to an economic, health, social and/or environmental impact in New Zealand or internationally.
Professors Moughan and Singh were awarded the 2012 prize for their world-leading and original research in the area of food protein science, which has led to a number of commercial innovations, patents, revenue and exports for New Zealand.
Dr Tanner said Zespri and the Riddet Institute have a long relationship as part of Zespri’s ongoing programme to understand the significant nutritional benefits of kiwifruit.
“The work Paul, Harjinder and the wider Riddet team have done with Zespri is critical in giving us the scientific basis on which to base our health marketing platform.
“We know that one of the key factors to building loyalty among our consumers is the health benefits of Zespri Kiwifruit. The ongoing research by Riddet to explore the nutrient profile of kiwifruit allows Zespri to build a credible and detailed platform about the health benefits of our product,” Dr Tanner said.
Riddet’s research has led to greater understanding of the digestive benefits of green kiwifruit, due to the presence of the unique enzyme known as actinidin and has also shown the significant Vitamin C content of kiwifruit, in comparison to other commonly-consumed fruit.
“With consumers increasingly focused on diet and health-related issues, the work done by Riddet in understanding the nutritional benefits of kiwifruit gives Zespri an edge globally and establishes the Zespri brand as one of the leading fruit brands in the world.
“I congratulate Paul, Harjinder and their team on the award and Zespri looks forward to continuing to work with them in the future,” Dr Tanner said.