Published on 2 April 2014
A food scientist, grower and field researcher who has worked for 45 years to establish and ensure world-class macadamia nut production in Australia will become an Honorary Senior Fellow of the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Ian McConachie AM, of Gympie, will be the only recipient of an honorary award at the USC Science, Health, Engineering and Sports Sciences graduation ceremony at 5pm on Friday 11 April.
It will be one of four honorary awards to be presented at USC’s four graduation ceremonies over 10-11 April.
Mr McConachie, 77, who started work as a food scientist in 1955 and graduated in chemistry and management from the Queensland University of Technology, is a pioneer of the Australian macadamia industry.
In 2006, he received a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to the industry as a grower and exporter contributing to international industry relations and the establishment of a renewable co-generation power facility.
“The USC award will be one of my life’s highlights, second only to the AM,” he said.
Mr McConachie is the founder and former chairman of the board of the large, Gympie-based processing and value-adding company Suncoast Gold Macadamias (Australia).
He was a director of the peak industry body, the Australian Macadamia Society, for 30 years and the founding chair of the Macadamia Conservation Trust.
He helped make local product competitive in both domestic and export markets by striving for quality. Suncoast Gold was the first macadamia factory in the world to gain Quality Assurance Accreditation to a specific international standard.
“I’ve enjoyed leading the industry development of innovation and quality initiatives and creating an awareness of the need to conserve the threatened wild macadamia species in our rainforest,” he said.
He is now updating his book on the history of the industry, called ‘The Macadamia Story’, and has been heavily involved in research to regenerate a rare macadamia species found near Miriam Vale.
“I have worked with (current and former) USC researchers Dr Noel Meyers, Dr Helen Wallace, Dr David Walton, Dr Michael Powell and Dr Alison Shapcott,” he said.
“USC is vibrant and progressive with highly-motivated students.”
— Julie Schomberg