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Food Pilot

Our Team

FoodPilot team includes experienced food technologists, engineers, operators and technicians.  Below are just some of those who may be involved in your project.

Prof Richard Archer - FoodPilot Director

Richard ArcherRichard Archer is an industrial biotechnologist by training and a food engineer by practice.  He leads several R&D groups working with the food industry and his background includes 24 years in dairy and deer by-product processing.  Five of these years he spent developing new technology-enabled businesses for KiwiTech/FonterraTech before joining Massey in 2004.  His interests remain strongly in the business of the food industry and in the technology and product needs to drive it forward.  He advises a number of organisations and currently works in several MBIE (various sectors), PGP (honey and dairy), and company-funded projects.  Richard holds the Logan Campbell Chair of Food Technology.

As Director of FoodPilot, Richard helps look after the people and facilities centred on the superb pilot plant on the Massey University Palmerston North campus. The FoodPilot lies at the core of both MIFST and FoodHQ, and is the foundation element of the New Zealand Food Innovation Network.

Nikki Middleditch – FoodPilot Client Solutions Manager, Massey Food Innovation Team Leader

Nikki MiddleditchBefore joining FoodPilot in 2017, Nikki spent 15 years commercialising food products in the UK.  Her manufacturing and brand-based experience spans bakery, meat-free products and prepared meal solutions.  Nikki’s success at leading development projects is evident in products on European supermarket shelves, British casual dining menus, and within global QSR menus.  Nikki credits her achievements to building strong relationships between her teams and clients “really understanding what the clients’ needs are and taking them through the project with you, makes success much more meaningful not just for the client but for the teams behind the delivery of that new product”.

As Client Solutions Manager for FoodPilot and Massey’s Food Innovation Team Leader, Nikki leads all aspects of our commercial food development and innovation projects.  She works with clients from their initial enquiries, coordinates projects teams and guides all projects through to completion.

Alberto Gonzalez Jordan – Senior Food Technologist

Dr Alberto Gonzalez JordanAlberto is an experienced food scientist with expertise in both fundamental and applied research. He earned his PhD in France in 2018 after obtaining an International Master's in Food Innovation and Product Design. He has published several papers in international journals and has collaborated with leading food companies such as Nestle, Danone and Bel. Alberto has been involved in projects of different nature ranging from idea creation and concept definition to product development, processing, market research and marketing”.

He has a scientific mindset, an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for food innovation. His aim is to improve people’s diet and health by developing healthier, safer, tastier and more sustainable products.

Garry Radford- FoodPilot Manager

Garry Radford Garry Radford’s two most important roles at FoodPilot are managing and operating the large array of pilot-scale equipment and overall risk management. Trained as a biochemist, Garry first came to the FoodPilot as a Food Technology postgraduate student. Now he imparts his more than 20 years’ experience in the operation of food processing equipment to both commercial clients and today’s Food Technology students.

FoodPilot is a registered risk management facility with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). This means clients wanting to take test samples of new food products developed in the FoodPilot lab into other countries can seek MPI approval via FoodPilot. That’s no small feat for Garry and his team when you consider that every application requires a very detailed description of the product development process and no two food products are the same.

“You have to be quite creative in here – there are so many options for making and packaging the food. I like the people side of it. I like to see people go away happy. Sometimes it doesn’t work and they still go away happy because we tried something and they left knowing more about their process or product.”

Warwick Johnson - Product Development Lab Manager

The key to successful food research and development is adaptation and innovation. FoodPilot lab manager Warwick Johnston says because no two new food ideas or client requests are ever the same, a ‘can-do’ approach to problem solving is crucial.

Warwick has been problem solving in food research and development at Massey for more than 20 years. Along with managing the Product Development (PD) laboratory, he works closely with Garry Radford and Byron McKillop to set up the FoodPilot equipment and work with the Food Innovation Team to carry out new product development projects.

Byron McKillop - Design and Commissioning Engineer

Byron Byron McKillop has been creating and designing solutions to food engineering problems since 1987. There are over 60 types of specialist food production equipment in FoodPilot. Sometimes our client’s new and unusual ideas stretch the original purpose for a piece of equipment.  That’s where Byron’s many years experience and original trade as a tool maker, fitter and turner, comes to the fore, helping identify and implement a solution to enable them to achieve the desired outcome.

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