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New Zealand future food company developing new nutrient sources closes $1.3m pre-seed round

20 July 2022

New Zealand venture NewFish® is pushing the boundaries of research and food culture to develop products that aim to introduce consumers to alternative food sources. University of Auckland alumna Paula Jeune has joined their operations team as a Research and Development Commercialisation Assistant, helping to translate the Creative Director’s recipes into commercially scalable products. 

Jeune says “As is the nature with all start-ups, it’s all hands on deck. I’ve been involved in all facets of the business, including procurement, logistics, compliance and operations. However, my main responsibilities have been related to new product development. I’ve had great experiences with taking ownership of my own projects and really thinking analytically to find solutions.”

NewFish currently has Pāua Saucisson commercially available, which contains hand-dived Blackfoot pāua (abalone), kurobuta pork, kelp, and sauvignon blanc. Next will be a completely plant-based ‘Ocean Mortadella’ comprising a variety of native seaweeds and micro-algae strains that can provide alternative protein bases for everyday foods. Products are brought together into sausage form using natural fermentation techniques. 

The flavour profile and price point of NewFish lends itself to high-end markets in cities with sophisticated and diverse food cultures. They have had interest from food service and food manufacturing businesses in cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, and Tokyo, where NewFish is able to leverage New Zealand’s reputation as a trusted, quality and premium food provenance. 

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

Jeune’s research dissertation explored alternative proteins. She says “My research showed that while consumers consistently indicated that sustainability was important to them in their food products, it was less often something they actively considered in their purchasing decisions. The reality is that humans are hedonistic creatures and taste will most often be the priority factor when making purchasing decisions, which reinforces the importance of developing alternative products that taste good.”

Jeune says that hybrid proteins such as those produced by NewFish have the potential to acclimatise consumers to alternative proteins. “The more we can introduce people to different protein sources, the more we can reduce the neophobia around these foods and reduce our reliance on animals.”

The pre-seed investment round raised $1.3 million with investors including pre-seed round included Outset Ventures; Tangaroa Ventures; basketball star Steven Adams; Ngāti Hineuru; Andrea Lee, chairwoman of the Hong Kong sauce brand Lee Kum Kee‘s Family Council; and PāuaCo, a company formed by fishers and processors of pāua, New Zealand’s native abalone. 

Regarding the high level of Māori investment, NewFish’s Marketing Lead, Eleni Hogg says “There is an alignment in values in that we both seek to protect our natural resources for generations to come. NewFish aligns with the tangata whenua view that both the land and the sea are taonga – to be both celebrated and protected. Products like the Pāua Saucisson are designed to reinstate our native Blackfoot Pāua’s pride of place and unrealised value.”

Jeune was first encouraged to explore a career in food science by her father, who saw a natural interest. While studying towards her Bachelor of Science and Postgraduate Honours degree in Food Science, she had the opportunity to explore concepts related to sustainability innovation through interactive courses such as Sustain 200 – The Sustainable Community. 

Jeune says “I think innovation and entrepreneurship are hugely important to researchers, now more than ever. The world is going to face some pretty complex problems in the next few decades and these will likely require some complex solutions. It’s going to be the researchers and organisations that take innovative approaches to these problems that will be able to make the most disruptive changes. Clearly, the way we as a society are doing things currently can’t be sustained for a great deal longer so we’ll need some brave and creative thinkers to challenge the status quo.”

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

20 July 2022

New Zealand venture NewFish® is pushing the boundaries of research and food culture to develop products that aim to introduce consumers to alternative food sources. University of Auckland alumna Paula Jeune has joined their operations team as a Research and Development Commercialisation Assistant, helping to translate the Creative Director’s recipes into commercially scalable products. 

Jeune says “As is the nature with all start-ups, it’s all hands on deck. I’ve been involved in all facets of the business, including procurement, logistics, compliance and operations. However, my main responsibilities have been related to new product development. I’ve had great experiences with taking ownership of my own projects and really thinking analytically to find solutions.”

NewFish currently has Pāua Saucisson commercially available, which contains hand-dived Blackfoot pāua (abalone), kurobuta pork, kelp, and sauvignon blanc. Next will be a completely plant-based ‘Ocean Mortadella’ comprising a variety of native seaweeds and micro-algae strains that can provide alternative protein bases for everyday foods. Products are brought together into sausage form using natural fermentation techniques. 

The flavour profile and price point of NewFish lends itself to high-end markets in cities with sophisticated and diverse food cultures. They have had interest from food service and food manufacturing businesses in cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, and Tokyo, where NewFish is able to leverage New Zealand’s reputation as a trusted, quality and premium food provenance. 

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

Jeune’s research dissertation explored alternative proteins. She says “My research showed that while consumers consistently indicated that sustainability was important to them in their food products, it was less often something they actively considered in their purchasing decisions. The reality is that humans are hedonistic creatures and taste will most often be the priority factor when making purchasing decisions, which reinforces the importance of developing alternative products that taste good.”

Jeune says that hybrid proteins such as those produced by NewFish have the potential to acclimatise consumers to alternative proteins. “The more we can introduce people to different protein sources, the more we can reduce the neophobia around these foods and reduce our reliance on animals.”

The pre-seed investment round raised $1.3 million with investors including pre-seed round included Outset Ventures; Tangaroa Ventures; basketball star Steven Adams; Ngāti Hineuru; Andrea Lee, chairwoman of the Hong Kong sauce brand Lee Kum Kee‘s Family Council; and PāuaCo, a company formed by fishers and processors of pāua, New Zealand’s native abalone. 

Regarding the high level of Māori investment, NewFish’s Marketing Lead, Eleni Hogg says “There is an alignment in values in that we both seek to protect our natural resources for generations to come. NewFish aligns with the tangata whenua view that both the land and the sea are taonga – to be both celebrated and protected. Products like the Pāua Saucisson are designed to reinstate our native Blackfoot Pāua’s pride of place and unrealised value.”

Jeune was first encouraged to explore a career in food science by her father, who saw a natural interest. While studying towards her Bachelor of Science and Postgraduate Honours degree in Food Science, she had the opportunity to explore concepts related to sustainability innovation through interactive courses such as Sustain 200 – The Sustainable Community. 

Jeune says “I think innovation and entrepreneurship are hugely important to researchers, now more than ever. The world is going to face some pretty complex problems in the next few decades and these will likely require some complex solutions. It’s going to be the researchers and organisations that take innovative approaches to these problems that will be able to make the most disruptive changes. Clearly, the way we as a society are doing things currently can’t be sustained for a great deal longer so we’ll need some brave and creative thinkers to challenge the status quo.”


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