Kiwi food scientist wins prestigious international award

Tuesday 4 June 2024

Riddet Institute Director Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh's contribution to the field of food science is being acknowledged with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh.

Last updated: Tuesday 4 June 2024

The Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University professor will be awarded one of the top international prizes in food science and technology next month.

Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh is receiving the Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Lifetime Achievement Award in Chicago at the IFT Annual Conference and Expo on July 14-17.

The IFT Lifetime Achievement Award is considered among the highest honours awarded in the science of food community. Distinguished Professor Singh will receive the award on Sunday, July 14, at a special awards ceremony and reception.

The IFT Lifetime Achievement Award is in honour of Nicolas Appert, a French food scientist who invented airtight food preservation in France in the early 19th century. The annual award honours an individual who has demonstrated lifetime contributions to the science of food.

Professor Singh is Director of the Riddet Institute, a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) hosted by Massey University on the Palmerston North campus. He was instrumental in creating the world-class food centre in New Zealand.

Riddet Institute Board Chair, the Right Honourable Sir Lockwood Smith said the award recognises Professor Singh’s sustained leadership and contributions to food science that span more than three decades.

“The Riddet Institute is so fortunate to have a Director of this global standing. He not only attracts high-quality students and staff in food science from universities all round the world, but he is also able to build international research collaborations that are enormously valuable to our food industry.

“Under Harjinder's directorship the Riddet Institute is destined to deliver even more value for New Zealand," Sir Lockwood says.

Professor Singh has published more than 500 scientific papers in leading academic journals. Last year, Stanford University named him as one of the world’s most influential scientists, designating him as  the highest-ranked food scientist in New Zealand, and the second highest in Australasia in the discipline of food science and technology, since the 1960s.

Provost Professor Giselle Byrnes says the university is immensely proud of Professor Singh’s remarkable achievements and his lifelong leadership in food technology research and teaching.

“This award is testimony not only to the excellence of Distinguished Professor Singh’s research – its reach, impact and application – but to his passion for unlocking the science of food and his willingness to grow the talents of others.”

A remarkable aspect of Professor Singh’s career has been the industrial application of his discoveries; manifested in 25 patents. Among these was Ferri-ProTM, a new technology to address iron deficiency, which Nestle is now marketing in several countries. He is also co-founder of two New Zealand-based start-up companies: Miruku Ltd and AndFoods Limited. 

He has delivered more than 100 keynote addresses at international conferences, serves on the editorial boards of 12 food journals and is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Sustainable Food Proteins journal. He has served on several national and international committees, playing a significant role in food strategy development and implementation.

His international standing and contributions to food science have been recognised by many prestigious national and international awards. In 2012, he was the co-recipient of the Prime Minister’s Science Prize, the highest science honour in New Zealand. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, International Academy of Food Science and Technology and the Institute of Food Technologists (USA).

Professor Singh says he is deeply honoured to receive the award.

“This recognition reflects the collective dedication and support of many remarkable individuals in my research group whose amazing creativity and hard work have been instrumental in this journey. This award inspires us to continue striving for excellence and make meaningful impact on the food sector globally."

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) honours top leaders in food science around the world in the annual awards. It is a non-profit scientific organisation advancing the science of food and its application globally, including in academia, government and industry circles.

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