Pre-Conference Masterclass At FHA 2018: Innovative Food Formulated By Human-Centred Design-Thinking

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Themed “New Nutrition: High Value Consumer Designed Nutrition”, the conference was conducted by a team of Maori entrepreneurs and researchers on 24 April 2018.


A team of “New Nutrition Designers” have come together to form Nuku ki te Puku Limited, which serves to further high-value nutrition in Asian societies. Their work relies on scientific evidence to meet a growing demand for nutrition with healthy labels, and to reduce the risks of preventable illnesses among populations.

During the segment “Innovation Human-Centred Thinking: Designing new food & beverages and healthy nutrition using consumer insights and design thinking methods”, the various speakers drew upon first-hand experience and case studies to differentiate food innovations among cultures and societies, within which exists demographic differentiation in demands of food products and nutritional needs.

“Design-thinking is really gaining a lot of popularity as a human-centric approach and is focused on emphasising the consumer to gain an understanding of the users’ current situation and then creating a product that is actually valuable to the consumer,” said Dr Vivienne Hunt, a researcher from the Nuku ki te Puku project.

In addressing high food wastage in New Zealand—approximately 103,000 tonnes annually, a partnership with the University of Auckland yielded a nutritional biscuit snack for underprivileged students. Under the “develop and deliver” model, this bid to turn potentially wasted food into new food products saw unsold bread and overripe bananas—which is known for its high potassium and micronutrient contents—made into the nutritionally-satisfying Nutrifuel.

The biscuit snack, which consists of 25 percent unsold bread, 15 percent unsold bananas with peel, is a good source of fibre and vitamin B, while containing 30 to 50 percent less fat and sugar than regular snacks consumed by students. The product itself was also convenient to eat and affordable at AU$1 for a 60 g-pack with a six-month shelf life.

Elderly health and malnutrition in the advanced age group were another focus during the session. For example, 30 percent of those above 65-years-old hospitalised at Singapore’s Changi General Hospital suffer from malnutrition. Malnutrition compromises immunity, increases frailty and the risks of falls, lengths of stays in hospital and risks of re-admission—all leading to major healthcare costs. In partnership with the Eastern Health Alliance, the Abbott team that Dr Hunt had been a part of sought to investigate the specific needs of the elderly in Singapore.

At the time of study, the researchers discovered that the elderly in Singapore were not in favour of the dairy-based supplement that was given to them. With funding from the Economic Development Board, a new product development process is underway for protein-based solutions more in line with the reality of the elderly Singaporeans—with prototypes derived from chicken and peas.

Intentional product innovations based on the necessities of the demographic is important. By starting with the end user in mind, market needs and demands can be identified, and products—like those targeting malnutrition in the elderly or proper nutrition for schooling children—can be innovated to fulfil a greater cause.


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