UK food sector in 'innovation emergency'

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Technology, European union

UK food sector in 'innovation emergency'
Manufacturers must embrace new technologies if the UK food and drink sector is to remain competitive against increasing competition from the developing world, Food and Drink Federation president Jim Moseley has warned.

Moseley, who is also md for General Mills UK and Ireland, claimed that public scepticism was the main barrier facing the industry with regard to new technology. He said consumers were particularly suspicious of activities that combined food and science.

"We need to unravel that so that embracing new technologies can actually be a very positive thing," ​said Moseley. "So, being able to compete with markets that embrace those technologies will also be key."

Moseley's comments came in advance of a call from FoodDrinkEurope (FDE) on Europe's policymakers to help food and drink businesses remove barriers to innovation and growth. FDE represents food and drink manufacturers across the EU. In particular, FDE has called for a better regulatory framework in Europe.

Debra Crew, president and general manager for the western Europe region for PepsiCo, said: "Innovation really is the lifeblood of our industry and of Europe's economy as a whole. Europe is very aware of its current 'innovation emergency', not to mention all the other forms of economic resuscitation that have been necessary in recent weeks. But the good news is there is genuine commitment and determination to raise our game on innovation on the part of both industry and policymakers and in partnership we can convert the 'innovation emergency' into a real opportunity."

The ethical issues of the high- tech applications in food processing are due to be discussed at a symposium organised by the European Federation of Food Science and Technology in Berlin this month.

The symposium will highlight food ethics, consumer science, ethical aspects of the major innovation sources and food processing. It will bring together some of the most reputable international food scientists and professionals to provide an interdisciplinary approach in food ethical issues. It will address these issues in connection with bioethics, biotechnology, food technology, quality assurance, consumer science, legislation and risk management. The conference will be chaired by Professor Diána Bánáti, chair of the European Food Safety Authority and a member of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies.

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