Not everybody working in the primary industries is actually based on an orchard, forest, fishing boat or farm. Many roles involve taking what’s been harvested – meat, wool, milk, fish, logs, cereals, fruit and vegetables – and adding value by processing them into finished products that we can use, consume, and export overseas.
Technologists, engineers and scientists have a critical role to play in this part of the primary industries. They help New Zealand to find, develop and export sustainable, safe and innovative food and fibre products
Commercialisation is the process of introducing a new product to the market. It involves research & development to develop new ideas and create innovative products; feasibility exploration to make sure that the product is suitable and can be made economically; and marketing and distribution for domestic and international markets.
Quality assurance is important, especially to make sure products meet the requirements of domestic and export markets.
Some of the key roles include:
- Food technologists work out how to turn milk, vegetables, fruit and fish into new food and drink products.
- Laboratory technicians test samples to optimise processing and measure nutrient levels.
- Microbiologists test products for unhelpful micro-organisms – such as bacteria and fungi – and use good ones to make cheese, yoghurt and beer.
- Process engineers and technologists figure out the most efficient ways to process raw materials.
- Material scientists and technologists develop new materials, such as biodegradable plastics from wood fibres.
- Automation engineers work on the systems that run big machines in factories.
- Agricultural scientists research ways to grow better crops, pasture grasses and farm animals.
- Horticultural scientists breed new and disease-resistant varieties of crops such as apples and kiwifruit.
- Forest scientists research forest growth, wood processing, conservation and different types of trees.
Employers in this area include:
- Food processors like Fonterra, Sealord and Heinz Wattie’s
- Timber, pulp and paper mills
- Government science agencies such as AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, Scion and Callaghan Innovation
- Private companies engaged in research & development work
Key tertiary qualifications include:
- Bachelor of Engineering, specialising in Chemical, Biological, Bioprocess or Process Engineering
- Bachelor of Science or Applied Science, specialising in Agriculture, Aquaculture, Biotechnology, Environmental Science, Forestry Science, Geology, Horticulture, Marine Science, Microbiology, Molecular Biology or Plant Science
- Bachelor of Food Technology, Bachelor of Science in Food Science
Required and recommended school subjects:
- Calculus (required for Engineering, Food Technology)
- Chemistry (required for Chemical & Process Engineering, Food Technology)
- Physics (required for Engineering, Food Technology)
- Agricultural or Horticultural Science
- Statistics & Modelling