Media Release

ATSE announces 2021 winners of ICM Agrifood Award

10 June 2021

Tastier plant-based food and drought-busting crops the winners at national awards for agricultural R&D

A new way to flavour-bomb meat-free products and smarter farming systems that thrive through drought are among the agricultural innovations recognised at the annual awards of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE).

ATSE’s prestigious annual ICM Agrifood Award is bestowed on two applied scientists who have made significant contributions to the agriculture sector.

The 2021 winners are:

  • Dr Anna El-Tahchy, Chief Technical Officer at Nourish Ingredients, a company founded by former CSIRO scientists, who is leading efforts to improve the flavour and sustainability of plant-based meat substitute food products.
  • Dr Lindsay Bell, Farming Systems Scientist at CSIRO, for world-leading research helping dryland crop and livestock farmers manage climate variability.

Dr Anna El-Tahchy has been leading a team of scientists at Nourish Ingredients to create animal-free fats that make plant-based meat alternatives taste better and are healthier and more sustainable than the traditionally used palm and coconut oils.

The key to the technology is a special fermentation process.

“The texture is exactly what we need to supplement these proteins without having to overload the products with them. So, there will be less carbohydrates, better taste and it’s actually mimicking animal fats,” Dr El-Tahchy said.

“I feel very proud to be awarded the ICM Agrifood Award and it came at the right time where I have been making that big step from a research organisation into a start-up.”

Dr Lindsay Bell’s research focuses on redesigning cropping systems and re-integrating crops and livestock to more efficiently use highly variable rainfall to increase profitability and reduce losses during droughts.

He has been instrumental in developing dual-purpose canola that works both as a crop and a feedstock, and designing protocols to help farmers graze their crops at a time that reduces the risk of grain yield losses.

“Growing up on a farm in western Queensland I have firsthand experience with many of the challenges facing agriculture,” Dr Bell said.
“This has driven me to try to identify practices, technology and markets that help farmers become more viable in the short and long term.”

ATSE President Professor Hugh Bradlow congratulated the winners, saying the ICM Agrifood Awards recognise the vital role of R&D in advancing Australia’s strength as an agricultural powerhouse.

“These two individuals are substantially improving the food sector in Australia,” Professor Bradlow said.

“The work being conducted by Dr El-Tahchy has the potential to change the way everyone looks at plant-based alternatives – whether they be vegans, vegetarians or lovers of meat and dairy.

“And Dr Bell is helping farmers work smarter to deal with Australia’s variable climate conditions and the increasing severity of droughts.”

For further information on the ICM Agrifood Awards and to view the full list of the 2021 ATSE Awards winners please go to:

Media contact: Liz Foschia or 0419 976 903

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering is a Learned Academy of independent experts helping Australians understand and use technology to solve complex problems.