Premier Foods boss joins Food Engineering Industrial Advisory Board

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food industry Sheffield Sheffield hallam university

Gavin Darby has been appointed chair of the Food Engineering Industrial Advisory Board
Gavin Darby has been appointed chair of the Food Engineering Industrial Advisory Board
Premier Foods boss Gavin Darby has been appointed chair of the Food Engineering Industrial Advisory Board (FEIAB) for the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering.

The board – composed of industry representatives and academics – will provide strategic input into the faculty’s business plan. This will include delivering research and training, focusing on the industry’s needs for innovation and skills in engineering.

Chief executive of Premier Foods, Darby said: “High quality engineering skills are vital to the future of the food industry, whether it be in supporting innovative new products and packaging or finding solutions to improve energy and waste efficiencies.”

Confronted with a looming shortage of qualified food engineers in the UK, it was vital the industry worked together to develop the top qualified engineers needed to sustain a successful food and drink industry, he added.

‘Proud to be part of’

“The National Centre of Excellence is a first class initiative that I’m proud to be a part of​,” said Darby.

The Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering will be based at Sheffield Hallam University. Earlier this year the centre received a funding boost of £6.9M from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Additional support is being provided by food and drink companies and equipment suppliers.

Manufacturers’ organisation the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) welcomed Darby’s appointment. Melanie Leech, FDF director general, said: “We are delighted that Gavin Darby has accepted the position of Food Engineering Industrial Advisory Board Chair. Gavin’s wealth of industry and leadership experience makes him ideally suited to driving forward the Centre of Excellence project.”

In addition to providing leadership for the project, Darby will also act as a high-level ambassador to ensure food and drink innovation is a high priority in industry, government and the research sector, she added.

Strong leadership

Dr Martin Howarth, director of the Centre of Excellence for food engineering at Sheffield Hallam University, said the centre would benefit from the strong leadership and direction of the Industrial Advisory Board in order to deliver on its aims. “Gavin's excellent industry background and experience will be welcome in helping to make this happen,”​ he added.

The Food Manufacture Group is staging a video debate on plugging the skills gap in UK food and drink manufacturing at the Foodex trade event at 11am on Tuesday March 25. For more details email zvpunry.fgbarf@jeoz.pbz​.

Meanwhile, Premier Foods’ head of regulatory affairs Alasdair Tucker will be joining three other expert speakers to take part in Food Manufacture’s free one-hour webinar, to be broadcast at 11am on Thursday February 20.

Also taking part in the webinar – Food Information to Consumers Regulation : what you need to know – will be Steve Spice, head of regulatory affairs at Campden BRI, Corinne Lowe, joint lead officer food and nutrition, Trading Standards Institute and Dominic Watkins, partner and head of the food team at law firm DWF.

Reserve your free place by emailing​ or read more details here.​ 

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