Philip Nelson, the Scholle Chair professor in food processing at Purdue University, last month was named winner of the World Food Prize for his contributions to food processing and preservation.
Nelson is credited with developing technology to transport processed fruits and vegetables without product spoilage. The technology, known as aseptic bulk storage and distribution, revolutionized global food trade.
More than 90 percent of the approximately 24 million tons of fresh tomatoes harvested globally each year are aseptically processed and packaged for year-round remanufacture into various food products, according to the World Food Prize Foundation.
The foundation annually recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the availability of food worldwide. Norman Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize, established the World Food Prize in 1986. The award is considered the Nobel of agriculture.
Previous prize winners were responsible for such innovations as high-yielding rice hybrids, a vaccine for cattle plague, a technique to control food-damaging insect parasites and the concept of integrated pest management.
Nelson's interest in food preservation dates back to his family's Morristown, Ind., tomato canning factory. He studied horticulture at Purdue, eventually earned a doctoral degree there and a faculty position. Nelson helped establish Purdue's Department of Food Science and retired as its head in 2003. He also was president of the Institute of Food Technologists in 2002.
Nelson will receive his $250,000 award at an Oct. 18 World Food Prize ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa.