Nutrition & Health Science

​Zespri invests considerably in Health & Nutrition research in three core areas of: Digestive health, Vitamin C health and Nutrient richness. We do not have in-house research facilities, so this work is undertaken through research partners in New Zealand and overseas and is co-ordinated by our Innovation Leader – Health and Nutrition, Dr Paul Blatchford. The reason we invest in scientific research is to provide the data we need to substantiate our health communications in our many markets. At Zespri we believe in the integrity of our product and in-order to build trust with our loyal consumers, we know the importance of demonstrating the scientific efficacy of our kiwifruit.


Science Advisory Board

In 2008, Zespri set up an expert group of leading scientists and nutritionists to steer our work on new health and nutrition projects. The Science Advisory Board (SAB) meets quarterly to consider existing and new projects for scientific merit and strategic fit. The SAB is convened by the Riddet Institute, a world-best research centre in food and related sciences with whom we have a strategic partnership. The composition of the SAB has been carefully put together to cover the range of activities that we are working in, with diverse expertise from dietetics to gastroenterology to psychology. As an example, Professor Richard Gearry, a Gastroenterologist was brought on-board for his expertise and assistance on global clinical trials in the area of digestive health. Our Research Pipeline outlines our planning and review process.


  • Dr Juliet Ansell

    Dr Juliet Ansell

    DPhil (Oxon): Innovation Manager at Zespri International Ltd

    ​Juliet is based in New Zealand and joined Zespri in July 2014. Prior to that she was an academic research scientist for 20 years working in the field of human health and nutrition. Juliet has a BSc from Kings College London and a doctorate from Oxford University, UK.


    Dr Paul Blatchford

    BSc (Hons), PhD, Health & Nutrition Innovation Lead, Zespri International Ltd

    Dr Paul Blatchford is the Health and Nutrition Innovation Leader at Zespri. Paul’s research was focussed on the human gut microbiome and investigating how it can be beneficially altered through dietary intervention. He has experience with in vitro studies and human clinical trials, using 'omics' approaches to examine microbial composition and metabolism with an emphasis on the effect on human health.​


    Dr Abby Thompson

    PhD, BTech: CEO of Food HQ

    Abby Thompson is the CEO of FoodHQ – where food ideas meet science.  FoodHQ is a collaborative initiative that brings together New Zealand’s smartest food science minds to drive innovation in the food industry.  Abby is well connected across the wide range of organisations that make up the New Zealand food innovation landscape.  Her previous roles included Director of Riddet Innovation (Massey University), where she led commercially-focused research and development work within the food and nutrition area, and Director of FoodPilot (part of the New Zealand Food Innovation Network).
  • Lynley Drummond

    Lynley Drummond

    BSc, Strategy, Innovation & Science advisor at Drummond Food Advisory Ltd

    With over 30 years experience in the food and dairy industries, together with academia, today the key focus of Lynley’s professional services is the strategic development and commercialisation of formulated complex nutritional foods, and the strategic planning, management and execution of food and health research for commercial entities. Lynley’s expertise provides the bridge between science, commercialisation and working within an increasingly rigid regulatory environment.
  • Professor Richard Gearry

    Professor Richard Gearry

    MBChB, FRACP, PhD: Professor of Medicine at the University of Otago

    Luminal Gastroenterologist & Therapeutic Endoscopist. Richard is Professor of Medicine at the University of Otago, Christchurch, Academic Head, Department of Medicine and Consultant Gastroenterologist at Christchurch Hospital and in Private Practice. His primary research interests are in luminal gastroenterology, particularly inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. He is an experienced clinical trialist and enjoys translational research.​

    Prof Hui-Chen Lo

    Nutritionist, Professor in Nutritional Science at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan

    Dr Hui-Chen Paula Lo is a full professor in the Department of Nutritional Science at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan. She is also the Executive Director and Academic Committee Convener of Nutrition Society of Taiwan. Her primary research interests include enteral and parenteral nutrition, intestinal diseases, amino acid metabolism, metabolic syndrome, and medicinal foods. She is experienced in animal studies and cell culture to investigate the effects of nutrition/nutrients on metabolic, inflammatory and immune responses.


    Prof Warren McNabb

    Deputy Director of the Riddet Institute

    ​Professor Warren McNabb was appointed Deputy Director of the Riddet Institute in October 2016. Warren is also a Principal Investigator at the Riddet Institute, Massey University and is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences.  His research focuses on nutrition research and in particular protein nutrition, and on food-host-microbial interactions and food for human health and wellbeing. He is currently mentoring six and supervising sixteen PhD students in these areas of research and development.   Warren has authored more than 200 publications including several book chapters and invited reviews.  


    John Henley-King

    Chair of SAB

    ​John has a Masters degree in Engineering from the University of Cambridge, UK and worked in the aerospace and pulp and paper industries in Europe before moving to New Zealand in 1995. Since then he has worked in education and research, holding a variety of roles at Massey University including positions in business development, research management and commercialisation. He has been at the Riddet Institute since 2008 and is responsible for all aspects of the Institute's operation. 


    Dr Ian Zajac

    PhD, MPsych (Clinical), Research Scientist, CSIRO

    ​Ian is a Research Scientist at the CSIRO and a Psychologist working in private practice. His primary research interests are in assessing the impact of nutritional and other interventions on cognitive function and wellbeing, increasing preventive health behaviours in at-risk groups, and understanding and treating mental illness. He has extensive experience in clinical trials work, science advisory roles, and communicating research outcomes with stakeholders including industry partners and consumers.​

  • David P. Richardson

    David P. Richardson

    BSc, MSc, PhD, FIFST, FRSM: ​Specialist Consultant in Nutrition & Food Science

    Previous roles as Group Chief Scientist Nestle UK Ltd, Accredited nutritionist, member of many government, regulatory and industrial committees in UK and EU and Fellow Royal Society of Medicine, London.

  • Distinguished Professor P J Moughan

    Distinguished Professor P J Moughan

    Co-director of Riddet Institute at Massey University

    ​BAgrSc (Hons), PhD, DSc, Hon DSc, FRSNZ, FRSC: Prof. Moughan was appointed to the foundation chair in monogastric biology at Massey University in 1993 and his research has encompassed the fields of human and animal nutrition, food chemistry, functional foods, mammalian growth biology and digestive physiology. Professor Moughan sits on a number of editorial boards for scientific journals and is an adviser to the international food industry.


Research Partners

Zespri has established a number of research partnerships in New Zealand and internationally, who provide world class input into nutrition and health science.