Over the next seven years the consortium of top food companies and research bodies, including PepsiCo, Nestlé, Cambridge University and ABP, will invest close to €1.2bn to research state-of-the-art food production systems across the supply chain. EIT will also match up to €400m for the project, dubbed ‘EIT Food’.
Research will revolve around four innovation programmes, established to target what ABP has called “important societal food challenges”.
These research areas include: examining the sphere of personalised healthy food and nutrition; research into food system digitalisation; exploring consumer-driven supply chain development and new technology adoption in farming, food processing and retail; and research in food waste to move from a linear produce-use-dispose food model into what ABP described as a “circular bio-economy”.
‘Prestigious and ground-breaking’
ABP claims to be one of Europe’s leading privately-owned agribusiness companies and the largest beef processor in Ireland and the UK.
“We are delighted to be part of this prestigious and ground-breaking initiative, which will help tackle the many challenges facing the food supply chain,” said Dean Holroyd, group technical and sustainability director at ABP.
“From ABP’s perspective, this is a great opportunity to be partnering with leading global players as we look at ways to improve the sustainable production and processing of beef from farm to fork.”
The EIT Food project will also train thousands of students and food professionals through workshops, summer schools and online education programmes, ABP confirmed.
Modelled on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, EIT is an independent body set up by the EU in 2008 to turbocharge innovation and entrepreneurialism across the continent. It brings together leading companies and research institutes to form cross-border partnerships, known internally as knowledge and innovation communities.
A ‘competitive edge’
Peter van Bladeren, vice-president Nestec, global head of regulatory and scientific affairs for Nestlé and chair of the interim supervisory board of EIT Food, said the scheme could be a key impetus for innovation.
“EIT Food is committed to create the future curriculum for students and food professionals as a driving force for innovation and business creation; it will give the food manufacturing sector, which accounts for 44 million jobs in Europe, a unique competitive edge.”
The consortium comprises a host of companies and research institutes, including: Robert Bosch, Siemens, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Sodexo, John Deere, Givaudin, Matis, Nielsen, Queens University Belfast, Cambridge University and the University of Reading.