Food Waste Innovation researchers measure food waste, develop reduction strategies, apply innovative technology, and work to modify producer and consumer behaviour.
Department of Food Science
Associate Professor Miranda Mirosa is Director of Food Waste Innovation, and research leader of the Social Innovations sub-theme.
Miranda’s behavioural research engages knowledge from fields such as marketing and psychology to provide insights and interventions for improved food system sustainability. Her research creates evidence-based solutions to help change peoples’ behaviours (i.e. identify the barriers to achieving a desired activity, design a behaviour change intervention or strategy to overcome the barriers, and pilot the interventions / strategies before broad implementation).
She provides academic consultancy services on food waste to government and businesses and is the author of the Mirosa Report, written for the Parliamentary Environmental Committee who ran a targeted briefing on food waste in NZ, which looks at the current status of food waste in Aotearoa and provides recommendations for action.
She is Co-Chair of the New Zealand Champions 12.3 initiative, a coalition of Champions from our food supply chain who are committed to halving food waste by 2030 and achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 12.3.
Department of Human Nutrition
Professor Sheila Skeaff is research leader for the Metrics and management sub-theme.
Professor Skeaff's work on waste aims to understand the volume and nature of food being thrown away. Obtaining baseline data, along the food supply chain, are needed to inform food waste prevention strategies that make the biggest impact with the least resources. By using robust, internationally recognised methodology to quantify food waste, the success of these strategies can be evaluated and improved. Her measurement work to date covers a range of sectors including post-harvest and retail.
Department of Food Science
Professor Phil Bremer is research leader of the Technical Innovations sub-theme.
- The development and validation of technologies to enhance food safety and shelf-life
- Understanding consumers’ willingness to accept new food concepts and new food processing technologies
- The food safety implications of recycling / upcycling foods or packaging materials
- How to most effectively promote food safety messaging to consumers
- Consumer behaviour and food choice
- Understanding the impact of raw material variation and processing practices on the quality and shelf-life of foods
Waste Minimisation Manager, Foodstuffs
Francesca Goodman-Smith is an industry representative.
Francesca is passionate about sustainable resource use and creating innovative solutions to environmental challenges. Her background is in nutrition and food science and she completed her MSc in 2017 which focused on food waste in the retail sector. She has experience across government, NGOs, academia and the private sector. In her role as Waste Minimisation Manager she is responsible for leading Foodstuffs' national waste minimisation programme.
Dr Dominic Agyei, Department of Food Science
Dr Agyei's research expertise includes bioprocess engineering; bioinformatics-driven discovery of functional / bioactive metabolites and enzyme-based valorisation of food wastes.
Associate Professor Azam Ali, Department of Food Science, and the Centre of Bioengineering and Nanomedicine
Associate Professor Ali has research expertise in biobased materials (biomaterials); biopolymers; process engineering; functional and edible packaging; bioactives and developing added-value products.
Associate Professor David J. Burritt, Department of Botany
Associate Professor Burritt’s research looks at oxidative stress and redox biology, with applications to the food industry including shelf life and storage of food.
Professor Hugh Campbell, Sociology, Gender Studies and Criminology Programme
Professor Campbell's expertise includes: Sociology of food waste, agricultural sustainability, new environmental governance, commercialisation of alternative agriculture and new socio-technical assemblages of food.
Dr Sean Connelly, School of Geography
Dr Connelly has research expertise in the areas of: sustainable food systems, food policy, and social economy.
Dr Rob Hamlin, Department of Marketing
Dr Hamlin's expertise lies in measuring consumer reactions to packaging and how packaging communicates with customers to achieve socially beneficial outcomes.
Dr Alan Hayman, Department of Chemistry
Dr Hayman is an organic chemist with expertise in green-chemistry applications, bioactives, materials chemistry, biofuels and utilizing waste-products generated from food processing.
Dr Euejung Hwang, Department of Marketing
Dr Hwang has research expertise in measuring the effects of sensory features in food choice and food consumption behaviours.
Dr Biniam Kebede, Department of Food Science
Dr Kebede has research expertise in data mining, predicting and optimising processing and shelf-life changes.
Dr Damien Mather, Department of Marketing
Dr Mather's expertise is in marketing knowledge in innovation, branding, pricing and corporate communications.
Associate Professor Lisa McNeill, Department of Marketing
Associate Professor McNeil's research expertise is in consumer behaviour and consumption, including sustainable food packaging alternatives in supermarkets.
Fiona Nyhof, Department of Food Science
Fiona is a passionate foodie with many years’ experience in food product development. Her expertise covers innovation, food ingredient selection, formulation and processing, food safety, quality, shelf life, packaging and consumer insights. Fiona has worked in a variety of food industries during her career and is currently the co-ordinator of student – company food product development projects for the Department of Food Science.
Professor Indra Oey, Department of Food Science
Professor Oey's research expertise includes Postharvest Innovation, novel processing technology, bioactives, and edible films.
Dr Mei Peng, Department of Food Science
Dr Peng's expertise lies in sensory neuroscience, food psychology and eating behaviour.
Associate Professor Kirsten Robertson, Department of Marketing
Associate Professor Robertson's research expertise includes consumer behaviour and well-being, including a focus on food waste.
Research Associate Professor Pat Silcock, Manager, Product Development Research Centre, Department of Food Science
Pat's expertise is in enhancing food product quality, product and process development, and extending product shelf life.
Professor Maree Thyne, Department of Marketing
Professor Thyne's research expertise lies in consumer behaviour, sustainable consumption, and consumer socialisation.
Dr Lincoln Wood, Department of Management
Dr Wood's research expertise is in logistics and supply chain management with a focus on industrial food production, transport, and waste.
Associate Investigators include both University of Otago postgraduate students, as well as researchers from external organisations and institutions.
Elisabeth Boyle, School of Geography
Exploring barriers to sustainable household food waste practices, MPlan Candidate
My research examines the barriers that exist that prevent households in Dunedin’s tertiary precinct from both minimising and diverting their food waste from the waste stream. The study incorporates considerations of how the built environment plays a role and will offer recommendations on how city planning can help address the issue of food waste in Dunedin.
Finn Boyle, Otago Polytechnic
A self-proclaimed Compost Nerd working with the Otago Polytechnic to develop a campus-scale facility for composting and organic resource recovery, I am obsessed with understanding what socially and ecologically sustainable food systems look/feel/taste like. I search for solutions at the confluence of culture, community and soil health.
Grace Clare, Department of Food Science
Impact of COVID-19 on the food recovery sector, BScHons Candidate
I am interviewing people working in New Zealand’s food rescue sector to learn about the challenges and opportunities that COVID-19 posed for their organisations. From these experiences, I aim to provide a framework for sharing these learnings that will strengthen the sector’s ability to prepare and respond to future crises or disruptions to the food supply chain.
Trixie Croad, Sociology, Gender Studies and Criminology Programme and Department of Food Science
Commercial food waste at the production end of the food waste Chain, MA Candidate
I am looking at understanding commercial food waste/loss at production in New Zealand. My background in food rescue and in sociology will help me in my endeavour to take a systemic approach to understand the dynamics of food waste systems/regimes in the commercial food supply chain in New Zealand.
Ashlee Drummy, Department of Food Science
Food waste in student flats, BSc
I am doing a summer research project with the sustainability office looking at the current drivers for food waste in student flats and coming up with interventions to reduce this food waste. I aim to put together a resource tool that can be available to students, focusing on reducing food waste at the cooking and storage stages.
Ruijun (Charlene) Li, Department of Food Science
The metrics and management of food and plastic waste associated with online food delivery in China, PhD Candidate
My research focuses on a rapidly developing issue in the supply chain – waste associated with the online food delivery sector. The primary purpose of this research is to provide an understanding the type and volume of food and packaging waste produced and to devise and trial interventions to enhance the sustainability of this sector. I will do this by (1) qualitatively understanding Chinese consumers’ perceptions and practices relating to online food delivery and its associated waste; (2) quantifying the volume and types of consumer-level food and plastic waste associated with online food delivery in China; and (3) measuring the effectiveness of interventions designed to reduce food and packaging associated with online food delivery.
Timothy Lynch, Otago Polytechnic
Timothy Lynch is a lecturer at the Food Design Institute at Otago Polytechnic. His background is as a chef with over two decades of professional cooking experience within New Zealand and throughout Europe. His teaching interests include the creation of platforms for consumer-led product development, and within this to explore consumer values in regards to notions such as provenance and sustainability.
Annesha Makhal, Department of Marketing
Socialisations of norms about perceived edibility of suboptimal foods, PhD Candidate
My research explored suboptimal produce consumption, purchase, and preference from the perspectives of children, thereby also casting light on how these preferences are socialised. The findings inform retailing practices for marketing and selling suboptimal produce. The research also influences how policy makers could implement normalisation strategies for increasing the acceptance of suboptimal produce.
Muhammad Qasim, Department of Anatomy
Research Fellow, Lecturer
My areas of expertise are biomaterials engineering and microfluidics technologies. In the food waste space I am interested in drug delivery products from seaweeds, biomedical materials from food waste, the development of smart nanofiber based food-packaging materials from fruits and agriculture waste, and making surgical masks from apple and banana waste.
Disney Sohali, Department of Accountancy and Finance
Cost Effectiveness and Social Accountability of Waste Management System of the Supermarkets in New Zealand, PhD Candidate
Globally plastic packaging and food waste have become a substantial problem. The main objective of my research is to identify the food and plastic packaging waste control system introduced by the major supermarkets chain in New Zealand and access the cost effectiveness and social accountability of those system. Along with the main purpose, this study focuses the solid waste reduction strategies that have already implemented or plan to implement in the near future. Moreover, what are their approaches to convert into the circular economy in 2025 with zero plastic waste. Furthermore, identify the key motivations and barriers to food waste reduction in this sector.
Margaret Thorsen, Departments of Human Nutrition and Food Science
Measuring and exploring the drivers for food loss in the horticulture sector, MSc Candidate
I have worked as a dietitian for over twenty years, predominantly with the hospitality sector and other organisations within the food supply chain. I have a passion for supporting a nutritious, sustainable food supply. The implementation of a food waste monitoring programme and the development of a plate waste reduction campaign sparked my interest in reducing food waste.
I am currently completing a Master of Science measuring and exploring the drivers for food loss in the horticulture sector. I enjoy being hands on as a volunteer for a food rescue organisation, helping to redirect surplus food to those in need. I am also a member of the Coeliac NZ Medical Advisory Panel with a particular interest in supporting their Dining Out programme.
Erin Young, Department of Food Science
Smart (i.e. active, intelligent) packaging to reduce food waste, PhD Candidate
Smart packaging technologies have the ability to improve food safety and quality outcomes for New Zealand food exports, through improving the protection and communication functions of the packaging. However, little is known about how Chinese consumers perceive packaging in general as an influencer in food choice, let alone innovative smart packaging technologies. China is New Zealand’s biggest export partner and offers significant opportunities. So, understanding Chinese consumer perceptions of smart packaging, and what types of smart packaging are preferred allows the New Zealand food and beverage industry to focus their packaging innovation efforts on the product and technology combinations that provide the best advantage in the Chinese market.