Postgraduate research on red meat

Meat Industry Association scholarship recipient Todd Fortune researches in The Hub on the Otago...
Meat Industry Association scholarship recipient Todd Fortune researches in The Hub on the Otago Polytechnic campus in Dunedin. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
Southern students considering careers in the red meat processing and exporting sector were among the Meat Industry Association scholarship recipients for 2021. In a series, reporter Shawn McAvinue asks them about their study and their future plans. This week he speaks to Otago Polytechnic student Todd Fortune (27), of Dunedin.

The red meat sector faces "opportunities and challenges" and collaborations with other groups would provide value, Dunedin student Todd Fortune says.

As a Meat Industry Association scholarship recipient, he was given $10,000 towards his second and final year of postgraduate study in Master of Design Enterprise at Otago Polytechnic.

With the money, he had bought a new computer and planned to spend some more subscribing to online services to further his research.

After reading the association’s strategic vision, he identified "opportunities and challenges" in the red meat sector.

The main focus of his postgraduate research was innovation ecosystems and processes.

"Collaboration across innovation ecosystems could provide real value to the red meat sector.”

He was "very interested" in open innovation.

Open innovation was the sharing of knowledge and collaboration between those developing new systems or products.

"I’m interested to see what other bodies such as government, academic institutions, or other food and beverage organisations the red meat sector is working with. This would involve further exploration and discovery of opportunities for the future.”

For part of his postgraduate study, he was doing a case study of a red meat processor .

As he had signed a non-disclosure agreement, he declined to reveal the company involved or discuss the project in depth.

However, for the case study, he would follow a design-thinking philosophy.

The first phase of the framework of the philosophy was to "empathise", which was crucial in understanding the users, customers and their behaviours.

"You have to challenge your own assumptions and biases and not project your behaviours on to the users. This ensures that the innovations are desired by the targeted users."

He was researching innovation ecosystems and processes with a "systems-thinking and regenerative-led approach", aiming to understand the system and its effects, while considering going beyond sustainable practices.

Regenerative practices considered animal welfare, farming practices, worker empowerment, wider community programmes, and environmental initiatives to ultimately provide value to the those involved, the wider community, and the environment, he said.

He gained a bachelor of culinary arts at the polytechnic — a qualification designed for students to develop the technical cooking skills, creative design techniques and innovative business practices needed to become a market leader within the food industry.

“It’s a strong design-led and entrepreneurial programme with food as the medium.

"We work on designing food products, systems, services and experiences."

His major project in his final year of the undergraduate study was to prototype a potential product for a chocolate company.

"It was very engaging, and I felt I would like to further develop my career along the lines of product design and innovation processes.”

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