As we continue our “meet the team” blogs, Senior Lecturer of the Food Technology and Innovation Department Rachel Hilton shares her passion for food creativity, styling, development and innovation.
Rachel joined the Harper team two years ago, totalling 13 years of lecturing experience. With a diverse and interesting career path beforehand, Rachel has the working knowledge to inspire students to be passionate about developing their own products.
“The food industry is so varied and diverse there really is a job that suits everyone’s skills and abilities – Harper Adams would be a great place to start.
“I absolutely love working with students, watching them develop and grow over their time with us. Working with industry focused briefs for our new product development module and food creativity module still gives me a buzz. This year we have worked with Bfresh, Addo Foods, Whitworths and Saputo developing a range of products and recipes from a live brief. Watching the students’ ideas come to life in the kitchen is a lovely experience.”
Rachel’s enthusiasm for her students’ work comes from her own passion for creativity and innovation. She commented: “I have always loved working in the food industry; the buzz of new briefs and the camaraderie is really special. There is nothing like seeing a product that has come from your idea on the supermarket shelves.
“Now I’m lecturing, I think some of the students think I’m a bit mad getting so excited about a bag of snacks. That’s until they develop products on placement! They had a taste of this in 2019 when we held our first Food Spectacular. Second year New Product Development students were able to show off their ideas and concepts at a food exhibition attended by industry, family, staff and students - the buzz from that lasted for weeks!”
Having always loved home economics at school, studying Food and Consumer Management at University College Birmingham seemed the logical next step for Rachel. With a passion for product development, she knew this was the area she wanted to work in. Graduating into a role with a small mayonnaise manufacturer in the West Midlands, Rachel then went on to work with some well-known names: Tulip, Nestle, and Brazilian chicken producer, Sadia. Within her roles she was given the opportunity to travel to Germany, the Netherlands and Brazil to both eat fabulous food and share in amazing experiences.
Of all of her roles, her one at Red Mill Snack Foods was Rachel’s favourite. She said: “As a New Product Development Technologist it was my responsibility to work with the retailers and Red Mill Brand Manager to develop new concepts and products. Some of the products I worked on include Transformer Snacks, Asda Party Mix and Bobby’s BBQ Snax are still available in the shops today!”
Our Food Technology and Innovation Department has staff with expertise in every step of the food chain, from farm gate to plate. If any of the above topics intrigue you, explore our undergraduate or postgraduate degree opportunities.