Government tackles food and drink supply chain efficiency

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is among a group of organisations investing in a new 'competition fund' which seeks to improve the resource efficiency and resilience of the UK food and drink supply chain.

More than £11m is being put into the fund, which is being organised by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) in a bid to stimulate collaborative research and more sustainable development projects.

The fund will provide the opportunity for the UK to improve its food engineering potential through the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering (NCEFE) at Sheffield Hallam University by merging industry and academia to research and develop improved solutions for the food sector which are resource-efficient.

New investment

FDF’s director general Melanie Leech said: “I am delighted the importance of the food industry has been recognised through this major new investment, which will allow businesses to collaborate to find industry-wide innovative engineering solutions, creating a more resilient and resource-efficient food and drink manufacturing supply chain.

“Through initiatives such as this fund and the development of the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University, industry will be able to unlock its growth potential and drive competitive advantage.”

The announcement of the competition fund ‘Improving food supply chain efficiency’, which is also being supported by Innovate UK, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), relates to a report following the ‘horsemeat scandal’ last year (2013).

The report from Achilles and IFF Research revealed that over half (53%) of UK businesses using international suppliers are not confident in the veracity of their overseas supply chains.

More from less

There is ever-increasing pressure on the food and drink industry to produce more from less with fewer resources. The aim of this competition is to help companies:

  • Reduce the production of waste. 
  • Use resources such as energy, water and raw materials more efficiently. 
  • Improve the productivity of food manufacturing and processing operations. 
  • Improve the resilience of the food supply chain by making better use of resources and reducing environmental stresses on food systems.

Lois Vallely

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