Food manufacturers welcome £15M R&D plan

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

 The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has welcomed the government’s plan to invest £15M in research and development dedicated to boosting food sector growth.

Food and beverage firms that were small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were expected to draw particular benefit from the spending.

Angela Coleshill, FDF director of competitiveness, said: “The announcement of a £15M investment by the government into research and development could be of particular help to SME food and drink businesses to help them innovate and continue to invest in new research and development facilities.”

The food and drink sector had both the appetite and the ability to grow particularly in a supportive business environment, she said.

Creates new jobs

“Among other things, this funding could help businesses invest in the new infrastructure needed to meet overseas demand for great British-made brands, which not only creates new jobs here in the UK, but also helps to safeguard existing ones,”​ she said.

A statement from the Technology Strategy Board explained that the money would be directed towards R&D projects that increase efficiency, sustainability and competitiveness.

A further £500,000 will be dedicated to micro and SMEs to provide feasibility studies intended to deliver better and more cost-effective systems and processes.

Jim Paice, food and farming minister, said the government wanted to invest in “… cutting edge ideas that increase efficiency and reduce waste in farming, food and drink production and manufacturing.

Engine for growth

“By getting businesses innovating and enhancing the UK’s reputation as a world-class pioneer of new production and manufacturing techniques, the food and farming sector can be a real engine for growth.”

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, added: “There are tremendous opportunities for UK businesses to develop technologies and innovative systems that can improve the competitive position of the food and drink manufacturing sector, which has a turnover of over £75bn a year, and to help grow the British economy.”

Gray pledged to seek proposals for projects and feasibility studies that will deliver innovation and technological advances throughout the UK’s food and drink supply chain.

The investment would create “opportunities for the export of goods and services to the wider global agri-food industry,”​ he said.

Known as The Food Processing and Manufacturing Efficiency competition, the initiative will be managed by the Technology Strategy Board with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Scottish government. 

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