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Our People

At FoodHQ our mission is to bring people together to realise our collective food innovation potential and create more value, faster.
    Building on the rich history of food and agricultural research dating back to the formation of Massey Agricultural College in 1926, FoodHQ was established in 2013. FoodHQ is a world-class food science and innovation hub headquartered in Manawatu, New Zealand with funding partners representing leaders in science, education and business. Our critical mass attracts the world’s smartest food science minds and international investment.

    The Team

    DR VICTORIA HATTON
    Chief Executive Officer

    victoria@foodhq.com, 027 538 5338

    Victoria, as the CEO of FoodHQ, brings a wealth of experience in climate change, sustainability, and food production. Her background in collaborating with governments, international organizations like the UN FAO, and leading research teams at institutions like Massey University, equips her to drive ambitious action and innovation in New Zealand’s food and agriculture sector. With expertise in science, policy, innovation, and advocacy, Victoria is uniquely positioned to shape the organization as a hub of leading food researchers. Her dedication to achieving net zero goals and passion for the country’s agriculture underscore her commitment to driving positive impact. Victoria’s proven track record of leadership and ability to bridge sectors for sustainable change make her a valuable asset in her role.

    SELINA BRIGHTWELL
    Finance and projects coordinator

    Selina comes to FoodHQ with a strong background in not-for-profit organisations, finance and leadership. While Selina manages the finances for FoodHQ, she is also the coordinator for the Strategic Thinking for Agrifood Management Programme (STAMP): which currently has a cohort of 29 young emerging agrifood sector leaders.

    Since starting at FoodHQ, Selina has a new appreciation for the agricultural and food industries and is keen to contribute toward these for a sustainable future.

    When Selina isn’t working she is kept busy with her three children and finishing off a Batchelor in Business degree through Massey University, Majoring in Management.

    EBONY LEAKE
    Research analyst and Events coordinator.

    Ebony brings a strong foundation in the New Zealand Agri sector, having graduated from Lincoln University in Christchurch with a degree in Agribusiness and food marketing. Her rural upbringing on a sheep and beef farm in Taranaki ignited her passion for the agrifood sector. Now, she’s embarking on her career in New Zealand’s food innovation environment, specifically focusing on alternative proteins at FoodHQ. When she’s not working, Ebony enjoys outdoor activities like sports and hiking.

    The Board

    MARK PIPER
    Chief Executive, Plant & Food Research, Board Chair

    mark@plantandfood.co.nz

    Mark has spent 30 years in the primary industry, most recently with Fonterra, and has held roles across manufacturing, IT, and supply chain before moving to Tokyo for three years to manage technical engagement with customers and then a further five years in Chicago where Mark was Regional Director for North America overseeing around $1.8b of activity across multiple countries and customers.

    Mark returned to New Zealand in 2016 and has been based in Palmerston North as an innovation leader since 2017.

    RAY GEOR
    Pro Vice-Chancellor College of Sciences, Massey University

    Ray leads College activity across agriculture and environment, veterinary and biomedical sciences, natural and fundamental sciences, and engineering.

    He is an internationally recognised veterinary and agricultural science specialist with clinical and research interests in equine medicine, nutrition and exercise science.

    SUE BIDROSE
    Chief Executive, AgResearch

    Sue has extensive experience in local and central government and in the not-for-profit sector. She has a doctorate in Psychology, looking at the impact of trauma on young children’s development.

    Her first job out of school, though, was a laboratory technician looking at metabolic diseases of dairy cattle, which set the ground for her return to the science sector when she joined AgResearch in July 2020 as the first woman CEO of any of the seven Crown Research Institutes.

    PIERRE VENTER
    Director, Research and Development, Fonterra

    Pierre is currently the Director R&D Centre (acting) for Fonterra, and has over 20 years of R&D leadership experience in multinational environments. During his career he has built a reputation for transformation, operations optimisation, innovative strategic thinking, working with the highest level of integrity, and a deep passionate commitment to product leadership culture and people development. He began his career as a Professor of Food Safety Microbiology in Africa, and is also a member of several international food industry advisory panels and governance platforms.

    GIL MERON
    CEO, Sprout Agritech

    Gil is an experienced agri and food technology investor, with experience in R&D, management and governance. Gil has a BSc in computer science and in electronics engineering from Tel Aviv University, and a MBA from London Business School.

    He worked for IBM and the Boston Consulting Group, but left the corporate world in search of a “do good do well” career in clean and agri and food tech investment and recently moved to New Zealand to manage Sprout Agritech.

    CHRIS DYHRBERG
    Chief Customer Officer, PNCC

    Chris is the Chief Customer Officer at Palmerston North City Council, responsible for the regulatory, customer and community facing divisions across Council.  Chris came to Council after a long career in corporate organisations, predominantly in telecommunication, with executive roles in Telecom, Spark, and Chorus, and senior leadership roles in companies working in the electricity, health and civil construction sectors. He holds degrees in law and finance from Otago University, is a member of the NZ Institute of Directors, and a director of Electra Ltd.

    NICK PYKE
    Chair, AGMARDT

    Nick is a Founder and Director of Ag Innovate Ltd and Leftfield Innovation Ltd. Ag Innovate focusses on supporting innovation through high quality applied research and deliver benefits to New Zealand food producers and the agricultural industries. Leftfield Innovation is a social enterprise which uses market insights to develop diversified sustainable land uses delivering food for consumers. Nick has governance experience with agricultural businesses, farms, industry good organisations and a sports organisation and is currently Chair of AGMARDT, a director of Cropmark Seeds and Pāmu and chairs the advisory board of Auld Distillery.

    News
    & Events

    Updates on the latest happenings, innovations, and opportunities in the food and food production industry. Stay informed about industry trends, research breakthroughs, and upcoming events that shape the future of food innovation.