Spotlight: Grant Momple, Consultant, Food Science and Technology Industry, South Africa

Date: 7 December 2017

Related Project: Partnerships to strengthen university food and nutrition sciences training and research in Eastern and Southern Africa

Grant Momple is a 56 year old South African man living in Paarl, about 50 km outside of Cape Town. Qualified in Microbiology and Food Technology he has spent the past 30 years working in the South African Food Industry, primarily in the flavour and associated industries.  Since 2016 he has been working in a consultant capacity with various companies in and around Cape Town.
Mr. Momple is an active member of SAAFoST (South African Association of Food Science and Technology) being both a Cape Branch Committee Member as well as a Council Member. He has also been a Professional Member of Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) for the past 16 years.

Mr. Momple’s work experience also incorporates employment at various local and international companies. Mr. Momple is passionate about Food Science and Technology and has spent a number of years promoting this line of study as a career choice to school children contemplating a scientific career path.

The Project and its relevance
Food security, malnourishment and poverty are rife in our country. To be able to grow, process and develop affordable, nutritious and tasty food and beverages for our nation is an ongoing challenge for our industry.
Operating within the internationally stipulated quality, safety and nutrition guidelines and still be able to produce tasty and affordable products is a huge challenge and some of the most basic products developed utilise the most advanced technology.

A number of our Food Scientists / technologists manage to secure employment in a wide number of countries globally, a true acknowledgement of the academic standards of our Universities.
Our food industry, comprising of the academic, manufacturing and research organisations work together (through SAAFoST primarily) to raise funds to assist students from various underprivileged backgrounds to be able to study Food Science & Technology. We have met with a lot of success over the years.

How did you become involved?
By being an active member of The South African Association for Food Science & Technology (SAAFoST) and also by working with the University on various industrial projects.
I have been working with the staff and students at Stellenbosch over a number of years, both with the scientific research arm and as an employer of various students and the subsequent interaction with the University about the relevance of the tertiary education offered by the University.

The ability of the students to be trained to be “fit for purpose" is extremely important to maintain the relevance and marketability of the students in the marketplace. (In a country with exceptionally high unemployment rates, the numbers of unemployed Food Scientists / technologists are extremely low.) Interaction with students, lecturing / technical staff as well as external audits is carried out on a regular basis to ensure that the curriculum is updated and modified where necessary.

The Project and your role  
I have been a regular assessor of the student programme. By being a long term employer of the Stellenbosch Food Science Students (at one stage we had 8 graduates on our staff.) I had regular discussions with the academic staff on the performance of the new scientists in the work place. For a number of years I was involved in arranging the “Industrial Ingredients Day" when we set up a one day programme to introduce the final year students to various industry players, especially from the ingredient suppliers.
Last year I was one of the 3 external assessors who sat through a one week exercise to examine academic and practical aspects and relevance of the Food Science Programme.

What advantages does working with international partners bring?
South Africa is part of the International Food Industry. International involvement and participation is crucial to enable us to benchmark our technology and quality standards with international references to help us maintain the relevance of our academic institutions in this fast developing, technology driven field. A big concern about not having international involvement / content would be the teaching of outdated technology and deteriorating standards. South Africa was the first country to host IUOFOST on African soil in 2010, showing our commitment to wanting to be part of the international food industry.

What are your expectations from the results?
The International involvement will assist in the local university in keeping their tertiary qualification relevant, technologically updated and synchronised with global standards. Stellenbosch University has a very good reputation in Africa and globally. The expectation is to maintain - and improve this good reputation.

Have you identified any impact to date?
Information should be shared to improve the lives of many. Being able to both share information from personal life experiences (I am one of a few South Africans in our industry that has had the privilege to visit a wide number of African countries) and to learn from other people's life experiences has been a wonderful journey of discovery.Every human body needs a certain amount of food and fluid to sustain daily life. The final benefactors of this project are a huge number of Africans who are able to eat and drink nutritious, tasty and affordable food. The success of the project will be the ability of Africa to feed and nourish her people.

Any Impact at national and or regional level?
The future and success of this project will enable a large number of people on this continent to be able to improve their technology, skills and information data base to be able to grow, process and develop appropriate food in significant quantities to meet local market needs.


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