Low calorie foods and finding alternative uses for waste products are among the ways in which South Holland-based scientists are helping to make a difference.
The National Center for Food Manufacturing, based in Holbeach, is leading the way with innovation.
Earlier this week the Government announced its Food Strategy, which aims to create a prosperous agri-food and seafood sector along with a ‘sustainable, nature positive, affordable food system’.
The sector is the country’s largest manufacturing industry, employing four million people and creating over £120billion for the economy. Up to 30% of the UK’s food is produced in or passes through South Holland, with 1,200 lorry loads of goods leaving the district each day.
The introduction to the strategy – which has come in for some criticism – states: “This strategy responds to the review, and includes policy initiatives to boost health, sustainability, accessibility of diets and to secure food supply.”
Dean of the centre, Prof Val Braybrooks, has welcomed the strategy – which also promotes innovation in the industry.
She said: “I am fully supportive of healthy, more home grown food and affordable diet is really to be celebrated.”
The University of Lincoln campus, which is a key part of the Holbeach Food Enterprise Zone, is working on a number of innovations including ‘reformulations’.
Associate Professor Bukola Onaride said: “There is a lot of interest from the food industry in the use of alternative sugars to make the food more healthy. They are also looking to reduce salt and increase fiber.”
They are also looking to increase the amount of Vitamin C and to look into plants which had not previously been considered – along with using waste to make products.
The team is also working on automation robotics and is developing grip technology to help industries such as fish processors.
Prof Braybrooks said: “We are helping the work with the sea fish sector to address their challenges.”
A net zero technology event will be running at the center today (Thursday).
The strategy has also been welcomed by the UK Food Valley project, which is being promoted by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Up to 40% of South Holland’s workforce is employed in the agriculture, food processing and distribution industries.
The area is also the center of the UK fresh produce industry and has the largest food distribution cluster, with over 1,200 lorry loads of fresh produce and other food leaving the area every day for national supply chains.
“We are pleased to see recognition of the need to increase UK food production and to automate to help enable this, as has been spearheaded by the team at the University of Lincoln,” said Sarah Louise Fairburn, chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Food Board.
“We welcome the recommendations to increase the production of vegetables, salad and fruit as promoted in our fresh produce investment proposition, a sector where Greater Lincolnshire is home to UK-leading production, trading and distribution clusters.
“We look forward to working across the food chain to deliver on the Food Strategy, and to reading the Health White Paper expected later this year which aims to tackle some of the UK’s health challenges.”