'Food for Life' driving EU food research forward

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Nutrition, Ciaa

'Great progress' has been made on the European Technology
Platform's Food for Life programme, according to chairman Peter van
Bladeren.

Speaking at a meeting this week in Brussels, van Bladeren said that the presentation of a copy of the Stakeholders Strategic Research Agenda (SSRA) to European commissioner for science and research Janez Potocnik "illustrates the great progress we have made in such a short period of time"​.

The presentation of the SSRA marked the first anniversary of the launch of the ETP.

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.

The CIAA hopes to encourage increased R&D spending from the private and public sectors and target research on the priorities outlined in the ETP. It also hopes to involve more of the smaller companies in the innovation process.

We are convinced that we have the ability and expertise required to make an important contribution to the seventh Framework Strategic Research Agenda (SRA),​ said Jean Martin, president of the European food and beverage industry body CIAA.

Our industry - the food and drink industry - is the largest manufacturing sector in Europe, with an annual turnover of 815 billion. We employ 4 million people.

"For CIAA, the 7th Framework SRA is a fundamental element to boost industry competitiveness through enhanced innovation leading to the development of products for the enhancement of consumer well-being.

The 80-page SSRA document, which follows intensive stakeholder consultations, focuses on seven key challenges. These include ensuring that the healthy choice is the easy choice for consumers, delivering a healthy diet, developing value-added food products with superior quality and assuring safe foods that consumers can trust.

The purpose of todays meeting was to highlight to the Commissioner how the ETP Food for Life has progressed and developed and to underscore that continued Commission support is essential,​ said Martin.

Commissioner Potocnik said that the SSRA provided a unique opportunity for all those involved in the European food chain, public and private, to increase their competitive strength by making the most of their research investments.

"By doing so, they will ensure the continuing welfare of consumers across Europe.... This has to be the primary objective of the platform."

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.

Related topics: Science

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