Work starts on new home for meat science

AgResearch science group leader for food and bio-based products Jolon Dyer.

Work has started on a new state-of-the-art Food Science Facility at Massey University in Palmerston North. In two years time, it will be the new home for the AgResearch meat and dairy quality teams.

The facility is being built in a partnership between AgResearch and Massey University. Its focus will be on dairy and red meat research, including meat quality. It will be situated alongside the existing Food Pilot Plant, part of the University’s College of Health, and will become a vital new cog in the FoodHQ partnership.

About 140 staff and students, including 90 AgResearch staff, will be located at the site. In addition to research, it will have a strong educational component and will house and train undergraduate and postgraduate students from the university.

Now at the concept design stage, construction is due to start next August and be completed by the end of 2018. According to AgResearch science group leader for food and bio-based products Jolon Dyer, key to the proposed new facility was its co-location with the Riddet Institute, New Zealand’s Centre of Research Excellence for food.

Preliminary plans are developing really well, he says, adding that all of the meat science team will eventually be based at the Palmerston North site.

“It’ll be very exciting to have all of our meat quality team together in a new facility including dedicated meat science equipment.”

Meat quality work will concentrate on research and development relating to meat processing and high value products with all the specialist equipment to hand, he explains.

Left to right are Massey University vice-chancellor Steve Maharey, AgResearch CEO Dr Tom Richardson and Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce at the opening of the new Food Science Facility at Massey University in August.
Left to right are Massey University vice-chancellor Steve Maharey, AgResearch CEO Dr Tom Richardson and Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce at the opening of the new Food Science Facility at Massey University in August.

“When you’re looking at food processing research, it’s not always possible to switch between meat and other foods, so allowance for dedicated meat science equipment is critical,” he says, adding the meat team’s abilities will also complement existing capabilities on-site creating food product synergies.

Food scientists working on the complementary areas of food assurance and safety will be based a stone’s throw away at the University’s Hopkirk Institute.

For Massey, the proposed Food Science Facility is a fantastic development, says vice-chancellor Steve Maharey. “We know it won’t just be some buildings, but a world-class super campus with thousands of people getting up every day to drive our dream of what we can do with food. To conduct world-class science you have to have world class facilities.”

AgResearch chief executive Dr Tom Richardson says the centre is part of the Crown Research Institute’s wider body of work, the Future Footprint Programme.

“It will be the epicentre of science for FoodHQ,” he says.

This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (October/November 2016) and is reproduced here with permission.

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