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Erin Young

Erin Young imagePhD Candidate

Department of Food Science



Smart (i.e. active, intelligent) packaging to reduce food waste


Erin comes from the North Island of New Zealand, and completed her earlier qualifications at Massey University. She originally completed a BTech (Biotech & Bioproc Eng) in 1997, before returning to complete a PGDipTech (Pack Tech) in 2006. She has lived and worked in Dunedin since 2005, so the University of Otago was the logical choice when she felt it was time to enter a PhD program.

After beginning her career in seafood protein chemistry research (resulting in both journal publications and conference presentations), Erin moved into the FMCG industry and now has over 10 years technical development experience in food packaging with some of New Zealand’s most iconic brands. Working with marketing, graphic designers and packaging printers also fostered a keen interest in design and colour, which she utilised to create a small patchwork and quilting business while her children were small.

Understanding the role of packaging in consumer food choice (the topic of her PhD research) will augment Erin’s technical packaging experience and graphic design interest, rounding out her food packaging knowledge. This will enable her to either continue in academia or work as a food packaging consultant once she finishes her PhD.

Erin is member of the University of Otago Food Waste Innovation Research Theme which measures food waste, develops reduction strategies, applies innovative technology, and works to modify producer and consumer behaviour.

Outside of University Erin continues to quilt and sew, and shares those efforts through her business social media despite having closed the fabric retailing portion of the business. She is also kept busy with her ‘Mum duties’ to her three school age children.

Project outline

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.