Alison Stewart 1

Professor Alison Stewart

Future Foods for NZ – Cutting through the hype

Professor Alison Stewart
CEO Foundation for Arable Research


CEO of the Foundation for Arable Research, Professor Alison Stewart is an applied plant scientist with a 35 year career focused on sustainable disease management, soil biology and plant biotechnology. She has successfully developed and commercialised a number of bioprotection technologies for the agriculture, horticulture and nursery sectors in NZ and the US. She has a PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of Stirling and in 1998 was appointed the first female Professor at Lincoln University. She was the Founding Director of the Bio-Protection Research Centre established in 2003 and has received numerous awards during her career including the AgResearch Technology Transfer Award (2002), the MAF Biosecurity Award for Excellence (2008), the Bayer Innovator of the Year Award (2011) and in 2009 was elected a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of her services to biology. She is a Fellow of the NZ Institute for Agricultural and Horticultural Science and the Australasian Plant Pathology Society. She is the author of 215 refereed journal publications and more than 300 other significant research outputs and has been invited to present many keynote addresses to international conferences. Alison has supervised 65 PhD, 21 Masters, and 5 Honours students and is actively involved in science mentoring programmes both in NZ and internationally.

Future Foods for NZ – Cutting through the hype

Synthetic meats, plants for protein, plant based milk, 3D printed food, vertical farming and so much more. Advances in food production systems are moving at a breathtaking pace and it is difficult not to get caught up in the global hype. Agritech experts and food influencers are increasingly highlighting the threats to our current agricultural production system with some predicting that it could become a sunset industry. This has led to a multitude of initiatives looking for NZ’s next success story with bets on whether it will be hemp or honey or hops. The reality is that it will be next to impossible to predict with any certainty. It could be all three, one or more or none, and we won’t know until it happens. So how does NZ position itself for future success in global markets that are rapidly evolving and changing? This talk will evaluate global food trends, identify what NZ’s competitive advantage could be and suggest a pathway forward that could provide a level of certainty to the future of our food production sector.

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