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First Scottish Centre for Food Development & Innovation Launched at Queen Margaret University

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First Scottish Centre for Food Development & Innovation Launched at Queen Margaret University

First Scottish Centre for Food Development & Innovation Launched at Queen Margaret University
December 11
09:26 2014

The first Scottish Centre for Food Development & Innovation has been launched at Queen Margaret University (QMU). The new Centre will enhance Scotland’s position as a leader in food and drink innovation in Europe and support access to the global market for healthy and functional food.

According to Bank of Scotland’s latest food and drink industry economic report, “Arguably , most critical of all for long term growth is innovation and improvement to food produce and the development of innovative new food sources or ‘frontier foods’.” More than half the companies interviewed in Bank of Scotland’s third annual survey of Scotland’s food and drink sector expect their business to grow by 5 and 25 per cent over the next five years.

Many firms cite new product development and investment in existing products being the top two ways to achieve this growth. It is estimated that a growth in sales of premium health products could be worth an additional £1 billion to the Scottish economy by 2017.

Commenting on the launch of QMU’s new Centre, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead, says: “Scotland’s food and drink sectors are internationally recognised for their quality, many of the most famous products having a long history and unique sense of identity. The work of the centre is helping those companies evolve to meet new demand, develop new products and diversify into new markets, particularly lucrative export opportunities.

In the past three years alone, QMU’s innovation based engagements with SMEs in the sector have generated an estimated extra £5.7 million for the businesses it has worked with.

QMU has established academic expertise in the translation and application of science to support commercially successful research and development within the industry, including research support for iQ Chocolate in Stirling, Gusto artisan dressings, marinades and oil and vinegars in Leith, Edinburgh; Black & Gold rapeseed oil in East Lothian; leaf tea experts, eteaket, in Edinburgh; Cuddybridge fruit juices in East Lothian, Belhaven Fruit Farm in East Lothian and The Chocolate Tree chocolatier in East Lothian.

Academic Lead for Food & Drink at QMU, Dr Jane McKenzie, says: “We’re really excited to have reached this significant milestone in the development of QMU’s Scottish Centre for Food Development & Innovation. Facilities like this are currently unavailable elsewhere in Scotland, so research work is often sent to England or Northern Ireland instead. The new facilities combined with QMU’s academic knowledge and expertise in food, nutrition and biological sciences is already offering companies in Scotland’s food and drink industry an unrivalled opportunity to innovate and develop new products which are underpinned by QMU’s scientific research.”

Through practical innovation support and creative business solutions, QMU is helping Scotland’s leading food and drink businesses with new and innovative product development and analysis; development of leading edge functional, health enhancing products and ingredients and formulation of existing products – for example healthier alternatives to fat, salt and sugar.

QMU’s team of food innovation experts are also identifying innovative sources of raw materials to produce novel ingredients and ensure sustainability; ingredients to improve product processing and preservation; nutritional analysis; shelf life testing; consumer focus groups and taste panels.

The £14 billion food and drink industry is one of the strongest performing sectors in Scotland’s economy.

Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director of Interface, adds: “The launch of the new centre at Queen Margaret University is another sign of the practical support that Scottish universities and research institutions are providing to food and drink businesses. By accessing the expertise, technologies and cutting edge facilities that academic institutions can offer food and drink companies will remain competitive and grow their markets both nationally and internationally.”

The Centre’s superb facilities include a dedicated microbiology laboratory; fully-equipped sensory suite; dedicated chemistry laboratory and a technology room for industry to test new technology.

For more information about the Scottish Centre for Food Development & Innovation and QMU’s Research & Knowledge Exchange Development Unit and how it can benefit your business, contact Miriam Smith, Business Development Manager at QMU on 0131 474 0000 or email MSmith3@qmu.ac.uk.

CAPTION:

Pictured (L-R): Mark Laing, Chairman, Nairn’s Oatcakes; James Withers, CEO of Food & Drink Scotland; Dr Jane McKenzie, Academic Lead for food and drink at QMU; Dr Siobhan Jordan, Director of Interface; Professor Petra Wend, Principal and Vice Chancellor of QMU.

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