Product development ‘lies at heart of food industry growth’

Innovation is at the heart of the phenomenal growth in Ireland’s food industry, according to Enterprise Ireland food division manager Joe Healy.

Mr Healy told global food research leaders attending the World Food Technology & Innovation Forum in Dublin yesterday that Ireland is a hub of new food product development. The event was sponsored by Enterprise Ireland.

He pointed out that Dairygold Food Ingredients, Glanbia Nutritionals, Carbery and Kerry Ingredients Ireland are working with a consortium of research institutes led by UCC to develop a strategy to maximise the value of milk, their common raw material.

He said that infant formula, dairy spreads, yoghurts and cheese are some of the products that will be enhanced using the research results to help maintain health and alleviate conditions associated with serious diseases.

Mr Healy said: “Ireland has hugely ambitious targets for Food Harvest 2020 as part of our national vision for the food industry, in which we want to generate €1bn of new value added exports.

“These targets cannot be achieved without successfully turning our international strengths into new products for growing global markets,” Mr Healy said.

“Our dairy sector, with its anticipated increase of 50% in milk supply by 2020, represents a tremendous opportunity. The potential to expand milk supply and increase exports is a singular advantage on world markets, as recognised by the blue chip global food companies who are present in Ireland.

“Innovation is the driving force for companies that want to be part of this growth, and it is critically important that the food and beverage industry lead the way in applying science and technology to develop new market-led products,” he said.

The forum has brought together leading international food companies, research groups, food producers and expert sectoral bodies to share information and debate the issues shaping the future of the global food industry.

The event also promoted Ireland’s industry-led research in the food sector, notably the dairy research partnership of Dairygold, Glanbia, Carbery and Kerry. The Food for Health Ireland Technology Centre has received €20m in funding from Enterprise Ireland since it was established in 2008.

Joe Healy said: “It is encouraging to see the progress already made by the dairy companies collaborating in this research centre. By agreeing to work together to develop a strategy for their sector, these companies have identified a range of high-value products that when brought to the international marketplace will lead to increased exports and create employment in the food sector.”

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