Gunnar Sigge, PhD

Gunnar Sigge, PhDI completed my BSc, MSc and PhD Food Science at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. I am currently Head of the Department of Food Science, Stellenbosch University, lecturing Food Processing and Preservation as well as Statistical Process Control. I am an active researcher in the field of food processing wastewater treatment and sustainable water use in the food industry. Other research interests include food safety (especially the safety of irrigation water used for food crops that are consumed raw), food processing and preservation.

I became involved with the South African Association for Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST) as a committee member of the Cape Branch in 1997. In 1999 I joined the SAAFoST Council, and was elected Vice-Chair & Treasurer of the Cape Branch in 2001, and in 2003 was elected Chair of the Cape Branch. I was involved in the planning and organisation of two SAAFoST Biennial Congresses (1999 & 2005), the organising committee for CHEMRAWN XII (2007), and was head of the Scientific Programme Committee for the IUFoST 2010 World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2007 I was elected as SAAFoST President Elect (2007 – 2010) and have just finished my term as SAAFoST President (2010 – 2013).

IFT and SAAFoST have had a good relationship for many years and IFT Presidents have been regular guest speakers at SAAFoST Biennial Congresses. In 2010 this relationship expanded with the presentation of a Leadership Workshop for young professionals at the IUFoST World Congress, facilitated by IFT. Further formal collaboration commenced with the launch of SAAFoST’s magazine, South African Food Science and Technology (FST) – in which IFT Food Technology articles are a regular feature of each issue. In 2012 I was invited to take part in the IFT Strategic Retreat in Reston, Virginia in the USA. The objective of the Retreat was to build on IFT’s commitment to their four strategic goals which support their mission of ensuring a safe and abundant food supply for healthier people everywhere. It is with the abovementioned experiences in mind that I am interested in contributing further to the knowledge sharing between individuals and associations that can lead to value addition to all the parties involved. In an ever increasing global landscape learning from one-another and sharing expertise can facilitate much faster adoption of best-practices in finding solutions to problems often seen as local, but which actually exist globally.

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What do you feel you can contribute to the growth and advancement of IFT?
I believe that the growth and advancement of IFT lies in expanding it’s reach – thus involvement on a more global scale is necessary. To be able to share the ideologies it is important to involve active role players in the different regions around the world, who have an understanding of the local problems and ideas. I believe that I can contribute in growing IFT’s reach through my demographic location, knowledge of the local problems and ideas, my food science background and experience in association leadership and management.

What are the three most important strategic issues facing the profession and the industry that align with IFT’s goals and how would you address these as a member of the Board of Directors?
In my opinion, three of the biggest issues facing the food science profession and the food industry globally are Food Security, Water Scarcity and Global Warming. All three these factors influence very heavily on a fundamental requirement – that being, how to produce food sustainably, while also wasting less food, to feed a world whose population is still increasing. Although these are complex issues, which are intricately inter-twined, they are issues which will have to be dealt with as collectively as possible and not in isolation.

It is also my opinion that scientific associations involved, in any way, in any of the three issues mentioned, will have to reach some sort of consensus in terms of what the actual challenges are, what their impact will be, prioritising them and then postulating how each scientific discipline can contribute to engage, inform, listen and eventually advise a way forward for their respective profession and industry. Thereby, collectively contributing to the holistic plan of ensuring sustainable food production. This will require innovative research and solutions to be sought for many of the challenges – which can only achieved if there is an over-arching plan.

As a Member of the Board of Directors I would endeavour to contribute by canvassing support for a collaborative, inclusive and scientific approach to formulating a realistic action plan which will firstly have to involve the formulation of a future vision, which will have to be shared with as many global, like-minded role-players.

Why do you want to serve on the Board of Directors and how has your work and volunteer experiences prepared you to be a strategic board member?
I believe that IFT is governed by a strategically-minded, solutions-driven, active, visible Executive Team with a global perspective, that has already identified the need to, not only serve its members, but I look to the future to serve mankind - without food there will be nothing! I feel very strongly that the IFT Mission and Vision statement is one that i can associate with, as I think these have been very well thought through and embody the spirit and direction that is needed to sensure food security. Therefore, I would like to try and contribute to advocating these ideals to other like-minded professionals across the globe.

I believe that my food science background, my research experience in food science as well as water and wastewater management from a developing country perspective can add value to the way in which IFT approaches issues of a global nature. I also have 15 years of experience serving on and leading a scientific association, thus equipping me with experience of associations and their success.

What defines a successful board and how would you contribute?
I believe a Board is as successful as its members - thus the more diverse and varied the competencies and experience of the members the more successful the Board will be. This is especially true in today’s global world, where interactions are increasingly international and more varied perspectives are required.

A Board is also strengthened by a collective belief in the Vision and Mission statement, so there needs to be a 100% buy in to ensure that the individuals on a Board are all aligned towards the same objectives.

I believe, as mentioned above, that I can contribute to IFT's Board of Directors from a food science perspective, a developing country perspective but also from an association strategic perspective.

Formal Education
PhD, 2004, Food Science, Stellenbosch University
MSc, 1996, Food Science, Stellenbosch University
BSc, 1992, Food Science, Stellenbosch University

Career History

Company

Title

Start Date

End Date

Department of Food Science,
Stellenbosch University

Technical Officer

1993

2002

Department of Food Science,
Stellenbosch University

Senior Lecturer

2010

Present

Department of Food Science,
Stellenbosch University

Departmental Chairperson

2009

Present

Department of Food Science,
Stellenbosch University

Lecturer

2003

2010

Leadership Experience

Company/Org

Position

Start Date

End Date

IFT Strategic Retreat Participant

Participant

2012

2012

South African Association for Food
Science and Technology (SAAFoST)

President

2012

2013

SAAFoST

President Elect

2007

2010

IUFoST 2010 World Congress

Scientific Programme Chair

2005

2010

SAAFoST

SAAFoST Council Member 1999 current

1999

Present

Professional and Community Recognition

  • Rectors Award for Outstanding Service, Stellenbosch University, November 2002.
  • Rectors Award for Excellence in Teaching, Stellenbosch University, December 2010
  • SACNASP – South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions, registered Professional Natural Scientist (Pr. Sci. Nat.), 2005 -Present