|Career Profiles of some Food Technologists
Graduated with a degree in Home Science, specialising in Food and Design, from the University of Otago.
Chose to specialise in sensory evaluation because I am interested in the reaction of consumers to new products and food.
I had my first experiences in consumer research when working in London for a frozen food company in a product development and sales role. On my return to NZ, I worked for the Meat Industry Research Association, where I focused on understanding Japanese consumers' responses to warmed over flavours in lamb.
From the Meat Industry I moved to the Horticulture Industry, where I was involved in understanding Japanese consumers' responses to kiwifruit and new apple and pear varieties. It was from this role that I was seconded to work with the NZ Dairy Board to assist in setting up a consumer research facility in Singapore.
Following on from the success of the S.E.Asia Research and Development Centre, I was asked to head up the consumer research section. An exciting time to be involved in understanding consumer responses to NZ dairy products, as new products were being introduced to new markets at an astonishing rate. To understand the requirements of these markets for dairy products was to be one step ahead of global competition.
One of the greatest challenges was to understand the differences in acceptability between products from grass fed cows versus the European products from grain fed cows, The challenges were to understand the psyche of Asian consumers and the degree to which their perception was based on what they saw vs. what they perceived.
The differences in colour between NZ dairy products and those from Europe proved to be an interesting exercise in mind over matter!
Despite the visual differences in NZ dairy products, the team was very successful in launching the No.1 brand in S.E.Asia (Anlene).
Back in NZ I took over the management of the Auckland Product Evaluation Centre for Fonterra – responsible for evaluating the sensory and functional performance of all new products prior to launch. No longer focusing on just S.E.Asia – the team needed to understand the peculiarities of all global markets from the Middle East to South America. In conjunction with off shore marketing staff, we evaluated the products for their fitness for purpose as well as their consumer acceptability.
Since leaving Fonterra, I have continued my links with the NZ Dairy Industry in my capacity as chief judge for the New Zealand Ice Cream Awards. In the five years I have been involved, the number of entries has increased to a staggering 185 entries across 9 different categories.
(Photo: Kay, at right, in action judging the 2006 Ice Cream Awards)
The greatest fun has been the involvement of the children in judging the kids category. No political correctness here – the kids do not hold back in scoring icecreams that definitely meet their approval vs. those not so popular.
Added to this portfolio, I have also been involved in judging both the Massey Food Awards and the NZJBA Juice and Beverage Awards – an extension of my role as a contract senior lecturer in Sensory Science and Product Development at Massey University.
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Real people talk about their jobs in food science, technology & engineering (courtesy of Futureintech: www.futureintech.com):
Simon Loveday, Food Research Scientist for The Riddet Institute, Palmerston North.
Harriet Gibbs, Process Manager for multinational dairy processor Fonterra, Edendale, Southland.
Michelle Lucke, Process Improvement Technologist for prepared foods manufacturer, Heinz Watties, Tomoana, Hastings.
Ben Sutherland, Product Development Technologist for healthy snack manufacturer Mother Earth Foods, Auckland.
Anna Smith, Development Technologist for milk and dairy foods processor Fonterra Brands NZ.
Andrew Hutton, Product Development Technologist for prepared foods manufacturer Heinz Wattie's, Hastings.
More profiles of careers in food technology at Futureintech: www.futureintech.com.
People who have made successful and interesting careers in food science, technology & engineering:
Kay McMath, a food scientist who has specialised in sensory evaluation, particularly in dairy products, becoming a leading judge at the NZ Ice Cream Awards, Massey Food Awards, and Juice & Beverage Awards.
Dr Chris Bloore, a food engineer specialising in milkpowder production, but also heavily involved in process automation and project management.
Dick Hubbard, an early food technology graduate who went on to become a household name, through his Hubbards range of breakfast cereals, and as mayor of our largest city.