Sanford – Connecting & Innovating


Company Profile

Sanford Limited is New Zealand’s largest seafood company committed to delivering high-quality seafood to the world since 1881. Sanford’s vision is to be number one in New Zealand quality, quantity and value seafood and are achieving this through sustainable business practices.

Company website

The Relationship

Aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing food-producing sector, and the United Nations Food and Agricultural organisation estimates that an additional 50 million tonnes of aquaculture products will be required to feed the world population by 2030. The New Zealand aquaculture industry has a target to reach $3B in annual sales by 2030.

In December 2015, Andrew Stanley, the General Manager of Sanford Innovation, and his team met with the Product Accelerator team, and shared challenges facing the aquaculture industry. From there the Product Accelerator developed its project network and connected with several research groups in food processing, robotics and data analytics at UoA, VUW, GNS, Massey and Canterbury Universities as well as Boxfish Research. In 2016, the Product Accelerator held an innovation seminar for Sanford executives, which brought the collaboration with Sanford to a new level and initiated specific research projects. Since then, Sanford and the Product Accelerator have continued to share innovation concepts and build collaborative networks through regular interactions.


The Impact

A new monitoring and inspection technology platform was conceived for the aquaculture industry. This technology platform includes four areas: robotics, sensor technology, data transmission and machine vision. These technologies are being explored in different Product Accelerator projects which include a PhD with Boxfish Research Ltd, the Centre for Automation and Robotic Engineering Science (CARES) at UoA and Professor Richard Green at the University of Canterbury.

In addition, the Product Accelerator (PA) team is involved in the SfTI Challenge Precision Aquaculture Farming led by the Cawthron Institute. Led by PA Research Leader, Professor Johan Potgieter at Massey University & John Futter (GNS Science), a standard Sanford mussel farm buoy has been converted into IOT device to transmit information such as weight and wave movement to mussel farmers. Other projects with Sanford have looked at new technologies for applying x-rays in processing environments in the mussel industry, process engineering consultation to enhance control & energy efficiency at Sanford’s mussel powder plant and the use of new ‘green solvents’ for targeted extraction of high value ingredients from mussels.


The Value

Andrew Stanley, Sanford General Manager, Innovation, said: “this monitoring platform is a great example of collaboration and a team approach to problem solving and is a great opportunity for NZ to take a leading role in managing our ocean”. He added “the Product Accelerator has acted as a critical thinking link in a role of connecting industry to new and upcoming technologies and expertise.”

Former Sanford CEO Volker Kuntzsch said “NZPA ensures collaboration across a wide range of relevant institutions, turning good ideas into real business opportunities. Enabling more efficient and sustainable sensing/harvesting/farming methods in our big blue backyard will enable NZ to lead the way to ‘doing the right thing’ by example. NZPA is a great partner in helping us achieve that”.

Andrew says “Sanford’s investment in innovation has culminated in a $20m+ investment in 2022 in a marine extracts and innovation centre in Marlborough, building on a foundation of collaboration that involves strong relationships with partners such as the Product Accelerator.”


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