Australia ponders global inspiration for dairy innovation

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dairy australia Milk

Australian dairy manufacturers are looking beyond their borders for new forms of innovation to shake up product manufacturing as part of an inaugural award designed to encourage global thinking amongst processors.

Finished product makers local to Australia are being offered AUS$20,000 (€10,927) to support a research project either at home or abroad for new processes in sustainable, functional or quality manufacture.

As dairy manufacturers across the globe face a variety of challenges in their operations, from environmental sustainability to adding nutritional value to their goods, international cooperation and knowledge sharing is becoming increasingly sought after.

Dr Mani Iyer, program manager for product innovation at Dairy Australia, said that despite focusing on encouraging national innovation in the industry, the potential inspirations and benefits could be global.

“The award supports and encourages new ideas for industry innovation and broadens the skills of the recipient, while also benefiting the entire dairy industry through sharing information on innovation,”​ Iyer stated.

Award focus

According to Dairy Australia, the grant will be awarded to the applicant whose focus best meets a number of set criteria alongside their skills and experience within the industry.

These areas include:

  • The scope of application and potential benefits for industry innovation
  • Originality and technical or scientific merits of proposals
  • Quality of applicant references

Applicants have until 31 October 2008 to submit their applications, with the eventual findings to be made available for use by all manufacturers in the country, Dairy Australia said.

Global Innovation

Australia is not the only country keen to encourage national innovation to boost its competitiveness internationally, with industry associations in Ireland also looking to boost their technical and scientific knowledge.

Earlier this year, government agency Enterprise Ireland announced its largest ever investment in research and development, providing €20m in a bid to a support some of the country's manufacturers in their research needs.

A National Functional Foods Research Centre will also be established under the investment, which was made in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and Food and Science Foundation Ireland.

Knowledge share

Despite national interests among manufacturers to ensure the competitiveness of their dairy products, processors are also showing willingness to work together on sharing information.

Jim Begg, president of the International Dairy Federation (IDF), said that it was currently in the process of devising resources to ensure its members are better able to reduce the impact of processing and producing milk under UK-based initiative, the Milk Roadmap.

The roadmap, which was outlined in April by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in conjunction with industry group Dairy UK and other stakeholders, sets out goals for the industry of reducing their environmental impact.

These targets include a setting a deadline of 2020 on cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and water use related to milk production. The focus also aims for the cessation of sending any factory produced waste to landfill sites by the same date.

Begg, who also helms Dairy UK, which helped to draw up the guidelines, told earlier this year that it had been inundated with requests for further information on the roadmap, which could serve as a blueprint for similar international schemes.

More information on the Dairy Australia competition can be found here.

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