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NewFish builds R&D team

We’re pleased to share our summer R&D Intern, Paula Jeune, has completed her honours dissertation on alternative proteins and will be commencing a full time R&D role at NewFish from April. 


Paula has been working in her role, funded by Callaghan Innovation, since November and is excited to move into her new position as Research and Development Commercialisation Assistant in April. 


“My internship experience at NewFish has been really enlightening, one that has provided me with excellent growth opportunities, both in a personal and professional sense.  


Working for a company in its formative stages has given me exposure to a highly variable work stream. I've gained a diverse range of experience in areas including compliance and regulation, logistics and operations, marketing, and research and development. 


The main aspect of the role that I have really resonated with is the company vision. As someone who is passionate about creating more sustainable food systems, working for a business that shares in this aspiration has enriched my experience immeasurably.”


During her time at NewFish, Paula has also completed her penultimate year of study at The University of Auckland in order to graduate with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Food Science. Her research dissertation, entitled  ‘The Physical, Chemical and Sensory Properties of Alternative Proteins in High Protein Nutrition Bars’ explored consumer attitudes towards alternative protein consumption and the feasibility of their use in protein bars. 


Despite numerous setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, she was still able to draw some interesting conclusions on the topic.


“A key finding from my research was that even though most consumers were quite knowledgeable about the sustainability of different protein sources and concerned about the environmental impact of the foods that they eat, they admitted this was not often a consideration for them when purchasing food products. The hedonistic nature of human beings means that pleasure-seeking is ingrained in our behaviour, and consumers still find it very difficult to sacrifice taste for other factors such as health and sustainability. 


Secondly, the highly desirable properties of animal protein sources are not easy to replace in food products. When producing high protein nutrition bars formulated from whey, hemp and cricket protein isolates, I discovered that the whey protein bar had superior nutritional, physicochemical and sensory properties to the alternative sources. During blind tasting, participants significantly preferred the bars made from whey and the whey protein was not limited in any essential amino acids, which hemp and cricket were


There is clearly more R&D work to be done to produce alternative protein isolates that stack up in terms of both nutrition and taste as my research found that sustainability credentials alone are not enough to change consumer preferences. 


Looking to the future, Paula is excited to see what is to come, both for herself, NewFish and the world in general. 


“Settling into my first full-time role after graduating from University I’m looking forward to gaining a deeper understanding of the core business functions and putting my theory into practice. 


We are working on several exciting new products at NewFish that I hope will make the cut from a taste, nutrition and environmental perspective. 


The future foods sector has been gaining a lot of traction recently with the rise of the conscious-consumer, a trend that we can only expect to continue. I’m eager to see (and be a part of!)  the upcoming developments in cellular agriculture and microalgae, as well as the areas that we are yet to discover.”