Every day new food ingredients and food products are developed. The food manufacturing processes needed to bring these safely and sustainably to the world are designed and managed by food engineers.
While food scientists often focus on the development and production factors involved in the food industry, food engineers specialize in preparing food for transport and consumption. At Taranaki Bio Extracts both of these aspects are vital. Site Manager at Taranaki Bio Extracts (TBE), Dr Mike North, has a PhD in food process engineering. His expertise and skills as a food scientist, process engineer and plant manager all contribute to the high quality of Butler’s range of premium B2B food ingredients manufactured at TBE.
Mike is passionate about the advantages New Zealand brings to the agri-food sector via the country’s innovative approach, climate, and farming practices. This passion was developed during his time at AgResearch Ltd – a New Zealand Government-owned Crown Research Institute carrying out government-funded and commercial research.
“As a Research Scientist/ Section Manager, I developed specific expertise in process engineering, meat science, food safety and quality. The team I led delivered R&D outcomes estimated to add more than NZ$100 million value p/a to the New Zealand agri-food sector,” he says.
Mike was awarded New Zealand Bio’s ‘NZ Emerging Bio-Technologist’ for contributions to food science including published research, the impact of this on industry developments, and successful R&D for plant process equipment.
“Having led the development of one of TBE’s production facilities, this experience has been firmly established in our plant and its outputs,” he says.
Mike leads a successful commercial team focused on practical outcomes for long-term clients. Their ability to translate a customers’ specific requirements by applying their knowledge results in New Zealand-unique products and ingredient solutions.
“Seeing our products evolve from concept to delivery confirms our specialty and expertise. Our premium brand Butler is all about the raw materials we’re using and the provenance of those raw materials. When it comes to our process, it’s about effective plant management and consistency to ensure premium product,” says Mike.
In setting up TBE’s beef bone extracts plant, Dr Mike North focused his expertise on goals towards ‘food safety’ and ‘flexibility.’
“We needed to enable a range of different products to be manufactured cost effectively – anything from bone broth where the key characteristic of interest is the flavour and mouth-feel, through to a Korean style leg bone soup where the focus is on fat content, colour and flavour,” he says.
The plant system they developed enables adjustments to tailor their end products. The key feature is the ability to pressure cook. A lot of broth plants are open kettle – this means open to the atmosphere. Once the product is boiling, you can’t go higher than 100 degrees. A pressure cooker seals, and closes in the pressure as you heat it, enabling product to go above 100 degrees.
“Pressure cooking will extract and solubilise the protein a lot more effectively than a kettle. The extraction process takes a lot longer with an open kettle and you’ll never reach the quality of extraction that you would with pressure cooking,” says Mike.
Learn more in future blogs on how the expertise of Dr Mike North and his team contributes to Butler’s premium offering, and delivering it to international markets.
To view our Butler premium food ingredients Our range of natural food ingredients | Taranaki Bio Extracts