Kevin Kantono

Kevin Kantono

Sensory Scientist, Arla Foods, Aarhus, Denmark
Doctor of Philosophy  
Bachelor of Science (Honours) (First Class)  
Bachelor of Science in Food Science  
Diploma in Applied Science

An eye-opening conversation with an industry insider and his mother first sparked his interest in food science, says AUT science alumnus Dr Kevin Kantono.

“I had the opportunity to talk to one of the executives from Orang Tua, a widely known food company in Indonesia. He mentioned that we always need food in our lives; we need it every day and that won’t change. In contrast, we only need medicine when we’re sick. This philosophy and my parents’ support convinced me to jump into studying food science.”

It’s a decision he hasn’t regretted, and he now uses his knowledge of food science to lead the in-house sensory science research of Arla Foods in Denmark.

“I’m responsible for developing the area of sensory and consumer science in the marketing and innovation environment at Arla Foods, both internally and externally through collaboration with research institutes and universities globally. Arla is the fourth biggest dairy producer in the world, spread out across 120 countries, and our product is sold in 145 countries worldwide. The 11,200 farmers who own Arla produce 14 billion kilograms of milk per year.

“I constantly use what I’ve learnt from my AUT food science papers on a day-to-day basis, with the main focus on sensory evaluation, but also on food physics, chemistry and microbiology. My project management skills, adaptability and ability to work to deadlines are also all paying off.”

Easy to get support
Kevin, who went all the way from a Diploma in Applied Science to the PhD, says he would highly recommend AUT’s science programmes.

“I studied at AUT long enough to know that AUT has the best student support services, engaging staff and lecturers, and amazing hands-on labs. AUT will support you with all sorts of issues that students encounter, whether they’re academic or personal. I also loved that the science programmes are flexible and very relevant.”

He enjoyed sharing his passion for science with other students, says Kevin who received the award for the most outstanding food science graduate.

“I was lucky enough to work as a teaching assistant, conducting lab sessions in the practical science labs. I was also a peer mentor and got to share what I’d learnt with first-year food science and chemistry students. Assisting students in their studies and giving them a confidence boost was a priceless experience.”

Exploring how we perceive food
After completing his undergraduate degree, Kevin decided to take his understanding of food science even further and enrolled in postgraduate study.

“I decided to stay at AUT for my postgraduate research because of my primary supervisor, Professor Nazimah Hamid, and her remarkable supervisory skills. She supervised me for my final-year Bachelor of Science research project, as well as my honours dissertation and PhD thesis.”

For his doctoral research, Kevin explored the influence our environment has on how we perceive food.

“You know when you listen to relaxing music on a nice rainy evening and have your hot chocolate, and everything just feels perfect? This is called cognitive consonance where we feel that everything is in harmony.

“For my research I wanted to explore this concept when it comes to how we perceive food and its flavour, pleasantness and enjoyment,” says Kevin who received the AUT Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences Doctoral Fees Scholarship to support his studies.