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Food company funding grows relationships

Friday 20 July 2018 2:43pm

Harraway and Sons Ltd Chief Executive Officer Stuart Hammer (at left) shows Professor Indrawati Oey and Professor Marc Hendrickx freshly cleaned oats at the company's Green Island factory on 18 July.

A leading Belgian food scientist is visiting New Zealand this month to share knowledge on how smart selection of food processing technology can make food safer, healthier and more appealing.

Professor Marc Hendrickx, the head of the Laboratory of Food Technology at the prestigious Katholieke Universiteit Leuven – Belgium, is visiting New Zealand thanks to a $100,000 gift from Dunedin-based Harraways and Sons Ltd, one of Otago’s oldest food processing companies.

As the inaugural Harraways 1867 Visiting Professorship recipient Professor Hendrickx is being hosted by the University of Otago’s Department of Food Science this month.

Professor Hendrickx accompanied by Otago Food Science staff and student toured Harraway’s Green Island factory on 18 July.

Harraways says . . .

Harraways Chief Executive Officer Stuart Hammer says that the gift marks both the long association between the company and Otago, and is a way of giving back to the University.

“The Department of Food Science has been invaluable in helping us develop new products and allowing us to tap into that knowledge and scientific expertise. We have also been able to employ excellent graduates and each year we engage undergraduate food science students to carry out projects that have generated great new ideas,” Mr Hammer says.

The company is delighted that Professor Hendrickx has accepted the inaugural Professorship and looks forward to meeting with Professor Hendrickx and the University to discuss mutual points of interest through the planned workshops and the site visit, he says.

“With his wealth of knowledge and experience, we are also looking forward to his two lectures while here in New Zealand and the visit is a great opportunity for all of us. We again sincerely thank Professor Hendrickx for accepting this opportunity.”

Harraways staff with Department of Food Science researchers and academics at Harraway and Sons this week.

Food Science relishes collaborative opportunities . . .

Department of Food Science Head Professor Indrawati Oey says the professorship visit has numerous significant benefits for teaching and research.

“The visit will advance current food science and technology knowledge, and improve Otago’s capabilities when providing advice and service to government agencies and food industry partners.

“Professor Hendrickx has extensive expertise in food processing technology, focusing on how food structure can be steered to influence and optimise nutrient bio-accessibility, and the digestion of plant-based foods.”

Otago students, staff and researchers will also benefit from attending workshops and symposia with Professor Hendrickx, and by networking with industry and research leaders during functions at the Dunedin campus and in Auckland, she says.

A full schedule . . .

While in New Zealand Professor Hendrickx will deliver several Harraways public lectures – including one in Dunedin on Monday 23 July at 5.30 in Castle 2 entitled “Rethinking Food Processing in a Changing World” – on advances in food processing and structuring.

In early July Professor Hendrickx delivered two plenary addresses at the Annual New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology (NZIFST) conference in Hamilton.

The NZIFST is a national event where food scientists, food industry representatives and governmental bodies give scientific presentations on innovations and challenges for all aspects of the food sector.

He discussed a range of topics, including how high-pressure technology can enhance processing of raw fruit materials, how food processing has progressed over the past 25 years, and future challenges and opportunities.

He also met with Ministry for Primary Industries staff.

In the North Island he visited Fonterra’s Research Centre and Massey University’s food science department in Palmerston North.

On 30 July he will hold a workshop at Mangere’s Foodbowl entitled “How HPP technology has been transferred from science to application” before giving another Harraways Public Lecture in Auckland at the University of Otago’s Queen St centre.

He will also meet with MBIE and NZTE staff, and research involved in the High Value Nutrition National Science Challenge.

Before his flight back to Belgium on 31 July, he will visit Plant and Food Research Mount Albert campus and University of Auckland.

Professor Hendrickx bio details:
• Professor, Head Laboratory of Food Technology
• Director of the 'Interuniversity Programme in Food Technology' (leading to the degree of 'Master of Science in Food Technology')
• Member of the Steering Committee of LFoRCe, Leuven Food Science and Nutrition Research Center, Principal Investigator Food Technology
• Has been involved in 14 large scale European multi-partner research projects, six of which he has co-ordinated. Currently involved in the management board of NovelQ, Healthy Structuring and High Tech Europe.

Join Professor Hendrick in Dunedin on 23 July, Castle 2 at 5:30pm.

Lecture abstract:

Food processing has changed substantially in recent decades. Earlier solutions to large-scale production of safe convenience foods were shown to often compromise the quality, taste and colour of these mass produced foodstuffs.

While using specific food ingredients and advances in processing led to substantial improvements in food quality, new approaches also have to satisfy the challenges posed by increased consumer demand for nutritionally balanced, high quality, additive-free food.

Professor Hendrickx will also explore how food science has helped produce food for people who value all-natural health foods, which are produced using sustainable methods that have a low environmental impact.

Shifting away from the use of additives in this context will see greater exploitation of the endogenous potential of the raw materials, by use of subtle and mild processes.

His presentation will include examples of the changing face of food processing, particularly from the field of fruit and vegetable based foods and food ingredient processing.