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Science and Technology - A Catalyst for Innovation in the Meat Industry

The 5th Teagasc Food Gateways event is highlighting the opportunities for the Irish meat industry to embrace science and technology to become more competitive, advanced and sustainable.

Today’s Meat@Gateways event, which is taking place in Teagasc Ashtown, Wednesday 21 May, showcases the critical mass that exists between Teagasc and UCC in the area of meat science and technology and the research collaboration under the Teagasc/UCC Food Innovation Alliance. It exhibits clearly what is on offer to the industry, whether researchers’ expertise, infrastructure capabilities, research outputs in the form of research updates and publications, services in the form of training, consultancy or new product development and intellectual property in the form of technology offers.

At Meat@Gateways Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Tom Hayes TD, acknowledged the partnership role between Teagasc, University College Cork, Enterprise Ireland, and his Department which is the main funding source for the research projects exhibited at the event, and remarked that the work exhibited “plays an essential part in keeping the Irish meat processing industry at the forefront of technical innovation in product development, new meat processing technologies for efficiency and safety, and underpins our efforts to maintain and increase our export markets.”

The Irish food sector is a major jewel in the crown of the Irish economy. Meat and livestock exports have increased by 8% to reach €3.3billion in 2013 accounting for one-third of our food and drinks exports.

Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “The industry faces serious challenges including the need to further reduce its carbon foot print, stronger competition in the food protein sector, a rising cost base, and an increasingly health conscious consumer. Ireland produces a high quality product with genuine “green” credentials. The industry has embraced the latest technologies to ensure safety and quality, but what is now needed is to embrace opportunities that exist through science based innovation so that the industry can become more competitive, maintain and grow markets and meet the latest consumer trends on the global stage.”

The Teagasc Food Gateways Programme is central to the Teagasc Food Technology Transfer Strategy. A special edition of the Teagasc Technology Portfolio describing the current technologies, capabilities, services and expertise relating to the meats sector was published today.

Declan Troy, head of the Teagasc Food Technology Transfer Office said: “Today’s event includes 24 exhibits and industry displays. Expertise includes areas such as genetics for improving meat quality, quantification of gaseous emissions from grass-fed beef cattle, the importance of meat in the diet, extending the shelf life of meat products, ensuring meat eating quality and novel smart packaging solutions. It is a unique display of Irish capability in meat technology and an opportunity to engage with the researchers with a view of exploiting some new business opportunities and new product opportunities.”

At the Meat@Gateways event, Dr Chris Calkins, Professor of Meat Science at the University of Nebraska in the U.S. discussed the collaborative nature of research and innovation in the United States. Research projects often involve a working group of meat industry professionals, scientists, and government employees. He reviewed the results of an initiative that identified new, innovative value-cuts of beef which was estimated to have increased the value of beef by over $1 billion USD annually. Dr Calkins encouraged the participants to move forward aggressively and highlighted the value of having a wide range of talents working together.