In a nutshell: Improving petfood products to make them most cost-effective to produce and more appealing to pets.
Why? “I could work in any food processing industry, anywhere in the world.”
High school in Australia, final year subjects: Chemistry, Economics, English, Maths, Physics
Massey University - Palmerston North: Bachelor of Food Technology (Honours)
Earning: $50,000 starting salary
A couple of weeks of work experience in a restaurant kitchen convinced me that I didn’t want to be a chef, but I did want to work with food.
I researched the options in Australia but decided to come home to New Zealand to do a comprehensive food technology degree at Massey University.
You have to get work experience during the holidays as part of the degree. I worked at Te Mata Cheese, at a winery and for Hawke’s Bay Independent Breweries, where I developed an interest in brewing.
Most beers are made from gluten-containing wheat or barley so people with coeliac disease can’t drink them. My final year project for my degree was to to develop a good tasting beer made from a gluten-free grain, such as rice or corn, with roasted chestnuts added for a unique flavour.
Initially I tried using rice as the starch source for the beer, and ended up gelatinising it in the cooker. It formed a sticky clump which I had to dig out by hand. This experience taught me to think carefully through what I was going to do before doing it.
You can hear me talking about my project on Radio NZ.
I'm now part of a team of product development technologists working on Heinz Wattie’s petfood products, which include the Chef and Champ ranges.
There’s lots of variety in my job, as we make a range of products for both the local and export markets. And I have to use creativity to find new solutions to processing problems.
Petfood has to have a careful balance of nutrients because it can be the only thing that a pet eats. It’s not like making a product for humans who eat a whole range of foods. Our petfoods all have to meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials requirements.
My qualification is internationally recognised so I could work in any food processing industry, anywhere in the world.
Posted May 2012
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