Honorary NZ Doctorate for Dilmah Founder

29 November, 2019 by
FMCG Business
Dr Merrill Fernando with Dilhan (left) and Malik and John Burton

Dilmah Tea Founder Merrill J. Fernando has been capped as a Doctor of Science by Massey University in New Zealand.

He was nominated for the honorary doctorate by the Pro Vice Chancellor College of Sciences, Professor Ray Geor, together with Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan, director Massey University’s renowned Riddet Institute.

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Merrill J. Fernando has had a long association with both the university and its institute, supporting doctorate research and as a keynote speaker at the 2018 Australasian Business Ethics Network conference held at Massey University last year.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the honorary doctorate recognizes Merrill J. Fernando’s great contribution to the food industry globally as well as his strong connection with Massey through research collaborations, including work into the antioxidant and health properties of tea.

“This honorary doctorate, only the fourth to be bestowed upon an international recipient, celebrates his prowess in business and science, but also his commitment to ethical food production and his philanthropic activities that has seen Dilmah known for its commitment to people,” Professor Thomas says. “We are proud to welcome Mr Fernando amongst our ranks and welcome further collaboration in future.”

As well as exporting Ceylon tea to New Zealand for more than 28 years, Dilmah has organised food and beverage matching competitions and hosted top New Zealand chefs and hospitality staff to Sri Lanka to learn the science and art behind producing the many styles of Dilmah single origin tea.

The entire range of 2267 products produced by Dilmah is now 100% carbon neutral. Dilmah is also heavily involved in conservation in Sri Lanka and the founder’s MJF Charitable Foundation, funded by Dilmah profits, works across the country currently serving 10,000 people each week.

Fernando’s sons Dilhan and Malik, after whom Dilmah is named, and his Dilmah New Zealand business partner John Burton, were on hand to help him celebrate the honour.

Dilhan, who is now the chief executive of Dilmah Tea, says the doctorate is a fitting tribute to their father on the eve of his 90th year.

“For my brother and me it is deeply fulfilling that our father is being honoured for the incredibly positive outcomes of his philosophy of making business a matter of human service. New Zealand is a country that is so very close to his heart and it is especially significant that Massey University is felicitating him in this way,” Dilhan says.

“Taste, Goodness and Purpose are the three elements that are at the heart of Dilmah.  Our business is founded on a sincere commitment to humanitarian and environmental purpose and it is our earnest wish that all business leaders will understand that this is an irrevocable commitment.  We continue to work towards reducing inequality and mitigating the worst effects of global warming.”

Previously, Merrill J. Fernando has been honoured with the Oslo Business for Peace award, as determined by a panel of Nobel Laureates, recognized as Sri Lankan of the Year and received the FIRST Award for responsible capitalism for improving lives of underprivileged children and deprived communities.