Food engineering leaps forward

Posted on 8 Feb 2013 by The Manufacturer

The UK’s first accredited food and drink engineering degree was launched yesterday at Sheffield Hallam University.

David Heath, minister for agriculture officially launched the MEng degree yesterday. The course aims to close skills gaps in the food and drink manufacturing sector – the UK’s largest manufacturing sector.

New, advanced food engineering skills have been identified as critical to the industry’s target of 20% growth by 2020.

The design of the new food engineering degree has been facilitated by UK-based food manufacturers including Nestlé. The company’s  UK & Ireland chairman and chief executive Fiona Kendrick, addressed attandees at yesterday’s launch event and said: “Our success depends on our ability to remain competitive and innovate however a lack of engineering and technical expertise will hold our industry back.”

Ms Kendrick said the new degree programme offered a chance for UK food manufacturers to take control of their future and shape the talent pipeline.

“A number of companies, including Nestlé, have already committed their support in a range of ways but I urge companies of all sizes to get involved,” finished Kendrick.

Supporting the development of work ready food engineers, the Sheffield Hallam course will guarantee students work placements with food manufacturing companies. Those who have already volunteered to offer placements include: ABF, apetito, Arla Foods, Burton’s Biscuit Company, Cargill, Dalehead Foods, Finsbury Foods, General Mills, Mars, McCains Foods, Mondelēz International, Nestlé UK, Pork Farms, Premier Foods, United Biscuits, Warburtons and the William Jackson Food Group.

The Food and Drink Federation and the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink have been key partners in advancing this new food engineering qualification. The scheme has been pushed forward under a joint Graduate Excellence campaign and has also received funding via UKCES and the Employer Investment Fund.