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UK food sector to get energy efficiency funding boost

By Joe Whitworth , 13-Nov-2012
Last updated on 16-Nov-2012 at 12:01 GMT

The UK food sector is to get a £12m (€15m) research centre aimed at supporting energy efficiency throughout the chain.

The Centre for Sustainable Energy use in Food Chains will be led by Brunel University, partnered by the Universities of Manchester and Birmingham.

It will develop innovative approaches, processes and technologies for energy demand reduction in all stages of the food chain: production, distribution, retail and consumption.

Partners include Kellogg Europe, PepsiCo, H J Heinz Co, GEA Searle, Cargill, Kraft Foods Worldwide Corporate HQ and Heineken International B.V.

Researchers will work closely with the UK’s food manufacturers, retailers, equipment manufacturers, scientific and technical providers and Knowledge Transfer Networks to develop a ‘gate to plate view’.

Efficiency at all stages

It will be led by Professor Savvas Tassou, head of Brunel University School of Engineering and Design.

Professor Tassou said: “The new interdisciplinary centre will bring together internationally leading researchers from the Universities of Brunel, Manchester and Birmingham to address important challenges of energy reduction and resource efficiency at all stages of the food chain from farm gate to plate.

“We will work very closely with key stakeholders to ensure that the research not only addresses the needs of the food industry and Government targets for reduction in energy use and carbon emissions, but also addresses consumer needs and well being,” he said.

“It will make Brunel one of the key universities in the UK and internationally for energy and food sustainability related research, and we look forward to working with our academic and industry partners as well as the wider community to accelerate progress in resource efficiency of the food sector.”

£39m total funding

The Centre is one of five End Use Energy Demand (EUED) centres, with £39m of funding that will look into the complexities of energy use and how it can be saved and used more efficiently.

The centres will receive a combined total of more than £26m in funding from two research councils, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and a further £13m from industrial partners.

Professor Paul Boyle, chief executive of the ESRC, said: "I believe the interdisciplinary nature of these centres will help us to better understand the challenges faced to meet our future energy needs.

“The centres must work together to ensure that the full potential impact of their programmes is realised.”

Greg Barker, UK Energy and Climate Change Minister, announced the funding yesterday.

“The five new End Use Energy Demand centres launched today will play an important role in improving our understanding of how energy is used across the nation, helping us learn more about what needs to be done to change consumer and business behaviour,” he added.    

FoodProductionDaily.com is holding an online event called Operational Efficiency on 29 November 2012, click HERE to find out more.