The Government’s innovation experts Innovate UK have launched a competition to fund up to £10 million in collaborative R&D projects aimed at reducing sugar, salt and fat and increasing dietary fibre in food and drink.
In doing so, Innovate UK aims to stimulate the availability of healthier food and drink choices for consumers and open up new market opportunities for the British food industry.
Lead technologist, agriculture and food team at Innovate UK, Helen Munday said “Innovate UK believes that healthier ingredients in packaged and pre-prepared foods have a part to play in improving our nation’s diet. This is not the entire answer to poor dietary habits or the obesity epidemic, but the companies that win funding and the innovations and healthier products that they develop will be part of the solution.”
The health profession has specifically cited the need to reduce salt, sugar and saturated fat in food and drink. In the context of preventing cancer, there are also concerns about a lack of dietary fibre.
Leading businesses recognise the need to proactively offer consumers foods that are more nutritionally balanced and, at the same time, appealing to modern tastes. Innovate UK’s competition is designed to help industry to develop innovative products to meet and anticipate evolving consumer preferences, and to help the UK build on its reputation for safe and sustainable food production of the highest standard.
The market opportunity is broad, from niche health products to mass markets such as bread. For greatest economic impact, Innovate UK are therefore looking for a breadth of projects, spanning a variety of food types, from improving heavily consumed, comparatively unhealthy foods to developing new, healthier foods to meet increasing consumer demand.
Innovate UK is also publishing a white paper to accompany the competition to explain its rationale and the context in which it is being launched.
‘How innovation can help reduce the impact of diet-related diseases’ is available here.