Food research project looking for partners in dairy spread industry

DAIRY spread manufacturers have an opportunity to participate with food research specialists in exploiting new technology which is expected to produce nutritionally superior spreads and oils with an extended shelf-life.

Industrial partners are being sought for this University of Limerick and Teagasc project, developing new process technology that protects sensitive compounds such as omega-3 fatty acids in spreads and oils.

Potentially a major commercial breakthrough, the project may bridge significant technical gaps in the effective delivery of spreads and oils enriched in omega-3, yet which are also low in trans fatty acids.

A team led by Teagasc’s Dr Brendan O’Kennedy and UL’s Prof David O’Beirne and Dr Deirdre Ní Eidhin has already made significant progress in this area of strong health- conscious consumer interest.

Dr O’Kennedy said: “This technology is of interest to food companies manufacturing dairy spreads and those who want to protect sensitive ingredients in oil–in-water emulsions or those are involved in health foods.

“Interested companies are invited to discuss this technology with a view to developing a range of spreads and oils. Funding may be available from Enterprise Ireland under the innovation voucher or innovation partnership schemes.”

Consumer awareness of diet and health has resulted in a higher demand for functional foods. In the yellow spreads and oils market, two major trends are emerging – enrichment with omega-3 and the reduction in trans fatty acids (TFAs).

Retail analysts Mintel estimate that the value of the British yellow fats market stood at £407m (€586.6m) in 2006, up from £363m (€523.2m) in 2004.

Brendan O’Kennedy: 025 42446; Brendan.okennedy @teagasc.ie

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