CIAA has launched an online consultation designed to help pinpoint key challenges facing the European food industry and boost R&D spending.
The association, which represents European food and drink industries in Brussels, said that the initiative was vital in the development and rollout of the European Technology Platform (ETP) Food for Life.
"The objective of this ETP 'Food for Life' online consultation is to help pinpoint the key challenges for ETP 'Food for Life' going forward - vis-a-vis the original Vision Document - by gathering significant and qualitative input from a broad range of experts," said Peter van Bladeren, chairman of the ETP board.
All this will feed into the creation of the 'Food for Life' strategic research agenda (SRA), due to be published in April 2007.
The European Technology Platform on Food for Life, launched by the CIAA last year, is a bid to focus research spending on health, quality, manufacturing, production consumer trends, food safety, supply chain management, communications, training and technology transfer.
The CIAA noted recently that the EU's research efforts have been fragmented and low due, in part, to the composition of the sector with its many small and medium sized businesses.
"An effective integration of strategically-focused, trans-national, concerted research in the nutritional food and consumer sciences and food chain management will deliver innovative, novel and improved food products for, and to, national, regional and global markets in line with consumer needs and expectations," the CIAA stated in a consultation document.
A detailed Implementation Plan will now be formulated as part of the next step and this will be finalised by December 2007.
"With regard to the new online web consultation questionnaire, the current ETP SSRA along with the original ETP Vision Document together provide the basis for this consultation," said Jean Martin, president of CIAA.
"The web consultation process is open, transparent, balanced and inclusive. It ensures that the extensive consultation process now underway across Europe is objective and will ultimately reflect the interests and opportunities of stakeholders and interested experts."
The CIAA sees the 7th Framework SRA as a fundamental element to boost industry competitiveness. Even though the amount spent on R&D in the EU rose by 20 per cent between 1997 and 2001, it accounted only for 0.24 per cent of output in 2001, far beyond the average of 0.35 per cent of its main competitors, the CIAA recently stated.
Food companies in Australia, Japan, Norway and the US all spend relatively more on R&D than the EU.