What are the megatrends in the agri-food industry?
A growing and ageing population, consumer demand for healthy and fresh food, regulatory requirements, decreasing land availability, changing weather patterns and diseases, increasing utility costs and shrinking margins, demand for cheap food, volatile food price and uncertain margins, increasing meat consumption, westernization of diet - these are the megatrends in the agri-food industry, which are presenting a number of challenges for companies.
What challenges do they create for the agri-food industry?
One of the key challenges for the food and drink industry is the ability to source environmentally sustainable and resilient raw materials. Agri-food companies involved in primary production that rely on bulk commodities, such as biscuits, cakes & breads, fruit & vegetable processing and oils & fats, are specifically affected. These industries rely on technological innovation to address this challenge through, for example, plant breeding to enhance crop resilience, to increase crop productivity and farm output, to enhance nutritional value and the processability of raw materials, as well as through identification and sourcing of alternative raw materials with lower environmental impact.
Where could solutions and technological innovation come from?
The UK research base and the agri-food industry have been developing solutions for these challenges by translating fundamental science into tailored commercialized solutions.
One of such mechanisms was through BBSRC research-industry clubs. BBSRC helps to address this challenge through support for a variety of partnership approaches that bring together companies and other research users with the research base. These Research and Technology Clubs co-funded by BBSRC, other funders, and consortia of companies, have helped to fund high quality, innovative research in areas identified as strategically important by BBSRC and industry.
For the agri-food industry, the Research and Technology Clubs, such as Crop Improvement Research Club (CIRC), Horticulture and Potato Initiative (HAPI), and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Innovation Club (SARIC) are working on pre-competitive research challenges and already generated solutions that benefited a range of companies. Practical outputs from the projects range from novel tools and methodologies to support breeding programmes though to new insights into the biology that determines crop yields, to web-based tools to provide farmers and agronomists with guidance on pest, weed and disease management.
How could other companies benefit from this innovation?
The latest advances in crop research undertaken by companies and research organisations will be shared at a conference on New Frontiers in Crop Research jointly organised by the AgriSciences Group of the Society of Chemical Industry and the Knowledge Transfer Network, with support from BBSRC, taking place in London on 20th October 2016.
The conference is targeting agri-food companies that are looking for long-term solutions to the key challenges of supplying healthy, nutritious food, with the lowest possible environmental impact, and security of supply.
What can I gain from this event?
The event aims to foster the interdisciplinary networking essential to innovation in the agri-food sector focused on enhancing crop yields, quality and sustainability.
There a number of funding mechanisms that can support such collaborations including the funding programmes such as Innovate UK, Newton Fund, and Global Challenges Research Fund, and Horizon2020. KTN and BBSRC colleagues, as well as colleagues from the National Contact Point for EU Funding will be at the event and would be happy to provide further information on funding opportunities and introduce you to suitable partners.
Please see for programme and booking details here.
Or speak to the members of the Agri-Food Team about how KTN could help your company to address your challenges.
What: New Frontiers in Crop Research
When: 20th October 2016
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