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Scoping Study on Small Scale, Speciality Food Processing - FT1801

Description
This document represents a considered response to Defra's Invitation to Tender to undertake a scoping study on small-scale food processing of added value products. It is submitted by two University of Plymouth Centres of Expertise - the Social Research & Regeneration Unit (SRRU) and the Agrifood Centre (AfC) - working in partnership with Otley College in Ipswich.

In summary, the overall aim of this project is to contribute to the development of the small-scale, specialty regional food sector in England and Wales and to stimulate rural enterprises, including small scale processing on farm, thereby contributing to a more vibrant rural economy. It will do this by seeking to gain a better understanding of the issues and barriers facing small scale-food producers in two important food processing regions of the UK - the South West, the East of England and the North East. The broad objectives of the research are four-fold:

1. To characterise and quantify small-scale, added value food processing activity in England and Wales and to identify the determinants of "efficiency" with respect to specialty food processing;
2. To understand the specific issues and barriers facing small scale food processors in England and Wales which are seeking to improve their processing efficiency;
3. To identify and synthesise relevant research and good practice, both new and existing, which has the potential to impact on the efficiency of specialty food processing;
4. To inform future research policy and investment with respect to small-scale food processing in England and Wales.
The approach we will take utilises a structured and layered analytical approach whereby the national specialty food processing picture will be used to provide an overall context within which an increasingly focused regional and then more sub-regional analysis can take place. The research will utilise both secondary (desk based) and primary (questionnaire surveys and fieldwork) research. Some 1,050 specialty food producers across the three regions will be involved in the primary research as part of an "Employers' Panel", with 105 of these taking part in face-to-face interviews as part of the data gathering exercise. Key national and international research organisations will also be questioned. The partnership will liaise with Taste of the West, Tastes of Anglia, the SW Regional Food Technology Centre, the Food Technology Advisory Centre in Tadcaster and other key organisations in the three target regions in order to agree all of the data sources and datasets to be utilised in the study and to ensure that the work is complementary to other work of a similar nature being undertaken across the three regions.

For Defra, the project will contribute substantially to the evidence base justifying a potential future research programme directed at improving the effectiveness of small scale, added value food processing. For the taxpayer, the study will help an important sector of the economy to grow, to enhance national GDP, to increase employment and productivity.

As a partnership, we believe that we have a unique combination of research capabilities, an excellent understanding of the Food and Drink Sectors in the South West, the East of England and the North East and direct relevant experience of conducting research of this nature. As such, we consider ourselves to be extremely well placed to undertake this scoping study which will contribute to the evidence base for a potential future research programme directed at improving the effectiveness of small scale processing for added value foods.

The Social Research & Regeneration Unit, which will lead the research effort if this application is successful, is a recognised Centre of Expertise and leading centre of social and market research at the University of Plymouth. SRRU has had considerable experience of successfully delivering similar research contracts for regional, national and international clients (see Section 7c - Approaches). The University of Plymouth’s Agrifood Centre (AfC) was established in 1995. It is a University of Plymouth Centre of Expertise specialising in providing for the Information, Consultancy and Research, Training and Continuous Professional Development needs of the Agri-food sector. The AfC is able to draw on the considerable relevant expertise of the University in areas such as: Agriculture Science and Technology, Environmental Science and Technology, Food Science and Technology, Land Use and Rural Management, as well as Hospitality and Tourism Management. Otley College is a specialist college of agriculture and horticulture, situated near Ipswich in Suffolk. In 2002, the college was awarded funding for a Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) in food technology. Both jointly and saparately the partners have previously undertaken a numer of Defra contracts.

Objective

1. To characterise and quantify small scale added value food processing in the UK, including the products and production processes associated with this activity and their relative importance;

2. To identify the determinants of "efficiency" with respect to small scale added value food processing;

3. To understand the specific issues facing small scale food processors in England and Wales who wish to improve their processing efficiency, and to identify the technical and non-technical barriers to efficiency improvement;

4. To identify specific waste management (eg food waste pathogens), marketing, distribution and food chain issues (eg Health & Safety) facing small scale food processors in England and Wales;

5. To identify and synthesise relevant research and good practice, both new and existing, which has the potential to impact on small scale food processing and to determine the exploitation routes, timescales and likely uptake of the new knowledge and improved technologies emerging from such research;

6. To identify any models for short-term access to shared production facilities, to quantify demand for such facilities and to identify any issues affecting the efficiency of small scale production in such facilities;

7. To identify any new generic issues that should be prioritised for research, for example the potential synergies between specialty food production and the emerging bio-fuel industry, and to estimate realistic targets for the outcomes of such research;

8. To determine the rationale for future public investment in research to make small scale food processing more efficient and to recommend the main research expertise required, the level of research investment required and who should be involved.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Scoping Study on Small Scale, Speciality Food Processing   (368k)
• Final Report : Scoping Study on Small Scale, Speciality Food Processing   (1869k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2006

Cost: £36,500
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University of Plymouth, Social Research and Regeneration Unit
Keywords
Food and Drink              
Food Chain              
Food manufacturing industry              
Food Quality              
Process Technology              
Sustainable Consumption and Production              
Sustainable Development              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Fields of Study
Resource Efficient and Resilient Food Chain