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£11M food technology funding puts innovation back on the menu

BBSRC contributes to Global Food SecurityInnovate UK website

7 December 2012

Over thirty major collaborative business-led food processing and manufacturing development projects have received more than £11M worth of government funding, securing the UK's future as a leader in food technology. Including investment by the participating companies the total value of the projects is in excess of £23M.

The work will lead to the development of new technologies and processes that will, for example, increase efficiency and reduce waste in the beef supply chain, increase bread manufacturing efficiency and sustainability and introduce more energy efficient air distribution systems for cooling food factories.

The grant funding is being provided by the UK's innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board ( www.innovateuk.org), Defra ( www.defra.gov.uk), the Scottish Government ( www.scotland.gov.uk), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC - www.bbsrc.ac.uk) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council ( www.epsrc.ac.uk).

Food and Farming Minister David Heath said: "Investment in research and technology delivers lasting benefits and this funding will keep the UK at the forefront of technology innovation. In an increasingly hungry world these new technologies and manufacturing techniques will help the UK's food processing sector use fewer natural resources and be more efficient. It will enable the sector to fully explore its potential as a real engine for economic growth."

Richard Lochhead, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said: "I'm pleased that this support will enable Scottish companies and research institutes to take part in these innovative research and development projects. The competitiveness of Scotland's food and drink processing and manufacturing sector is vital for continued future economic growth.

"The investment will help explore new ways of saving energy and resources, which in turn can reduce the industry's environmental impact and underpin the ongoing development of this critical sector."

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: "The UK food and drink manufacturing sector has a turnover of over £75Bn a year, and has great potential to help drive growth in our economy. This new funding provides the opportunity for UK businesses to develop technologies and innovative systems that will deliver advances throughout the food and drink chain, as well as create opportunities for the export of goods and services to the global market. The collaboration between the funders is also an excellent example of cooperation between partners in the Global Food Security programme."

Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive said: "Tackling the challenge of food security requires research and innovation throughout the process of food production from farm to fork. This project is an excellent example of funding partners and industry working together to find new ways of supplying the nation's food more effectively and with fewer inputs."

The research and development to be funded through this programme will include work such as:

  • A project that aims to increase efficiency in processing and distribution, and reduce wastage, in the beef supply chain by improvements in eating quality, meat spoilage and increased shelf life, led by ABP Food Group. The project will adapt a participatory approach from retailer to primary production identifying critical control points which underlie waste.
  • The development by Bakkavor Foods and their partners of an energy efficient food safe air distribution system for cooling food factories. They intend to develop innovative air distribution systems that make maintaining chilled conditions in food factories as efficient as possible, reducing energy wastage caused by unoccupied chilled space.
  • Increasing bread manufacturing efficiency by adopting an innovative way of generating natural, functional raw materials from excess, food safe, dough and baked bread through a project to be led by Warburtons. They aim to cut the cost of bakery functional ingredients significantly, reduce bread and dough waste and, at the same time, reduce the environmental burden created by the manufacture and supply chain of these functional ingredients.
  • New-Food Innovation's project, which will focus on the innovative recovery and transformation of high value functional and textural ingredients from co-products arising from fresh fruit and vegetable processing streams, for incorporation into food products. The outcome of the project will demonstrate exploitation, rather than simple management of co-products, and will deliver direct commercial benefit.

Rising costs and increased regulation around greenhouse gas emissions and waste pose a significant challenge to the UK's food manufacturing and processing sector. This research and development activity supported by this government funding will stimulate more efficient food processing, packaging and distribution in the retail and food service sectors and the efficient recycling of manufacturing by-products and waste.

The Technology Strategy Board, Defra, the Scottish Government, BBSRC and EPSRC also contribute to the Global Food Security programme, a multi-partner programme that brings together the food security-related research interests of research councils, government departments and executive agencies to meet the challenge of supplying enough safe, nutritious and affordable food in a sustainable way for a growing global population.

ENDS

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