The University of Queensland led Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Centre (ITTC) for Uniquely Australian Foods (IC180100045) aims to transform the native Food and Agribusiness Sector through development of selected crops, foods and ingredients using an Indigenous governance group to oversee the process of converting Traditional Knowledge into Branded Products.
Native foods represent a major opportunity for premium Australian products in both domestic and export markets, capitalising on consumer interest in the provenance and traditional heritage characteristics of foods. The outcomes of the Training Centre will include the testing of market opportunities, the development of appropriate social and business models, and the identification of future opportunities for Uniquely Australian Foods. Economic and quality of life benefits through job creation and benefit sharing arrangements will be secured for Indigenous communities through sustainable business models which will help to Close the Gap, and the development of supply chain partnerships to reduce the risks involved in taking products to market.
This PhD project – focussed on honey flavour – is one of 10 PhD projects that will form part of the Training Centre as a collaboration between The University of Queensland and BeeInventive.
The Role: There is an opportunity for a highly motivated PhD student to join the QAAFI team within the Training Centre aiming to develop the Australian native food industry. They will work directly with indigenous and non-indigenous enterprises and be involved in the various activities of the centre. The position will interact with the project collaborators in Australia and may visit collaborating scientists in Canada and Germany.
Research Area: The flavour and chemistry of honey is complex. To date, upwards of 150 volatile aromatic compounds have been identified which depend largely on the floral or botanical origin of the honey. The unique floral identity of honey is key to delivering a high quality product that attracts a premium due to its distinctive qualities.
Australian botanicals offer a diverse range of distinctive floral sources from which premium honey can be produced. The method of honey extraction can affect the quality of honey, where heating and spinning can introduce unwanted flavour artefacts as well as begin the process of oxidative spoilage. A new Australian technology has been developed – the Flow® Frame –which allows for honey to be extracted directly from the hive without disturbing the bees and avoiding additional processing and extraction steps. The result is a honey with authentic floral characteristics and improved honey flavour.
This PhD project builds on the innovative Australian technology – the Flow® Frame – and will apply the technology to identify the qualities of honeys from distinctive Australian botanicals. The project will also develop a proof-of-principle around the use of the Flow® Frame as a research tool for exploring differences in botanical origin and regional flavours of honeys due to the simplicity of the extraction method.
The PhD student will gain hands-on experience in bee keeping and will develop strong skills in sensory science, flavour chemistry, statistical evaluation and botanical research. The project seeks to develop a strong and capable future leader for the Bee industry who is an ambassador for the Flow® Frame technology.