The initiative – unveiled today (March 20) – brings together food and drink manufacturers, academics, researchers and government officials to develop research projects dedicated to addressing challenges facing food and drink manufacturers and the global food production system. Topics include: the future of manufacturing, resource efficiency, smarter packaging and new ingredients.
Speaking at the launch of the event, keynote speaker Professor Sir Mark Walport, chief scientific adviser to government, highlighted the importance of innovation to drive economic recovery and answer the challenges set by climate change and food security. “The agri-food industry is vitally important to the UK economy and our future food security,” he said.
‘Feeding a growing population’
“We must support efforts to nurture and drive innovation in the industry that helps us to meet future challenges, such as climate change and feeding a growing population. Today’s event demonstrates that collaboration between food and drink businesses, government and science and research communities is essential in helping us to identify and meet the evolving needs of industry and society.”
Melanie Leech, FDF director general, said the event was a major step towards removing the barriers to competitive and sustainable growth. “Innovation, new technologies and skills are critical to meeting the future challenge of producing more with less resource,” added Leech.
“We are pleased to bring together industry, government and research communities to identify the key pre-competitive projects which will deliver our shared vision for innovation.”
Martin Douglas, Cargill board director and UK Agri-Tech Leadership Council member, urged food and drink manufacturers to collaborate on pre-competitive research. As examples he highlighted the industry’s work with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Centre for Food Engineering and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Food as key sector initiatives.
‘The industry must get smarter’
“As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, the food and drink industry plays a crucial role in providing safe, affordable and nutritious food to consumers, while delivering sustainable growth for the economy,” said Douglas. “To continue to fulfil these vital roles, the industry must get smarter with science and be able to clearly articulate its strategic innovation priorities, building on government’s Agri-Tech Strategy to drive innovation forward in manufacturing and the whole supply chain.”
The innovation event follows the launch of FDF’s Innovation Vision in December 2013. “The event was developed to bring the industry together and agree on a shared agenda for future sustainable growth through innovation, and help deliver healthier, more secure, sustainable affordable food and drink, accessible to all,” said the FDF.