MPI SLMACC - Adapting to climate change: Information for the New Zealand food system

Project Team: 

ESR | AgResearch | Massey University


If climate patterns continue to shift in the future, it is likely that most of New Zealand’s primary industry sectors – meat and wool, dairy, arable, horticulture, viticulture, aquaculture and forestry, will experience changes in productivity and relative profitability. As a result, those changes could shift production zones within New Zealand and will test the adaptability of farmers. Climate change in New Zealand has already seen air and sea temperature rise by ~1°C since 1910, with sea level increasing by ~20cm over the same period. Rainfall patterns across the country are much more variable, and are affected by shifts in the prevailing winds and phenomena such as the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a natural climate and sea temperature pattern that affects weather all around the world.

Working with our industry partners we will review anticipated changes in the NZ food system, as a result of climate change predictions over a period of the next 50-100 years. To date there has been no assessment of New Zealand’s food system and the many links and processes in the food value chain that might be impacted, from greater cooling needs and energy requirements, quicker food spoilage, to food safety issues.

The project team comprises of three partners of the New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre (ESR, AgResearch and Massey University) along with NIWA, and will assess issues such as cold storage, food spoilage, food safety, changing food disease profiles and harvest times with a focus on the impact of increased temperature and moisture change. The objective is to make qualitative evidence based predictions of likely effects on the food system, in order that industry can prepare and adapt so that economic performance is maintained.



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