Food firms invest in manufacturers of the future

By Dan Colombini

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cooking Northern ireland

Manufacturers are working with students at the University of Ulster
Manufacturers are working with students at the University of Ulster
Six UK food firms have teamed up with the food manufacturers of the future for a new product development project at the University of Ulster.

Manufacturers Bakkavör, Daniels, SK Food, Oscar Mayer, Irwins and Little Dish have joined forces with first-year students on the Consumer Studies BSc course to develop new products that could, if successful, be made available for retail.

The firms will give students real briefs to work on and each company will provide a mentor to assist on the “live” projects throughout the academic year.

Lucinda Bryant, head of development at Bakkavör Pizza told Food “Bakkavör is pleased to support this new initiative with first-year students at the University of Ulster. Students will be working on a chilled pizza brief focusing on product innovation, with our teams supporting them throughout the process.

“Bakkavör already has close ties with The University, including sponsorship of an annual student award for the most innovative food product, and several Ulster graduates have joined the company through our Accelerated Management Scheme.”

Product strategies

The students will sign non-disclosure agreements to ensure they maintain confidentiality. They will also have to negotiate budgets, liaise directly with management teams from their allocated company and deliver detailed product strategies for areas as wide ranging as children's food to bakery.

The project was designed by food development expert Grainne Allen, who currently mentors Sainsburys product development team.

Allen also works with the retail giant on a number of key product strategies and was involved in the relaunch of ‘Taste the Difference’ last year and the ‘Get the Nation Cooking’ initative.

She said: “This is a very exciting project where, for the first time, food manufacturers are giving students real briefs to work on and we’ve got some of the biggest names in the UK involved. These companies develop food products for Sainsburys, Tesco and Marks & Spencer.

“The students will have to be creative but also business-minded. They will be split into groups of four and each group will have a mentor from the company working with them.”

Sensory suite

The University of Ulster maintains a professional relationship with Sainsburys, with the supermarket opening its graduate recruitment programme to consumer Studies and Culinary Arts students this year.

Sainsburys has also accredited the university’s sensory suite at the Coleraine campus, as the food-testing partner for its Northern Irish products.

Dr Una McMahon-Beattie, head of hospitaility and tourism at Ulster University said: “Thanks to the hard work of our new Visiting Professor and course director, our students are being given opportunities to connect with people in the industry and work on live projects, with all the invaluable experience that brings.”

Related topics Chilled foods

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