The new West Midlands Regional Food Academy (WMRFA) has opened at Harper Adams University College in Shropshire to support SME food companies in the area.
The WMFRA houses a range of food technology facilities, including a product development kitchen, processing hall, cheese room, taste panel room, focus group room, instrumental analysis room, seminar room and a central teaching theatre, which will seat 100 students and allow hands-on demonstrations for training courses, school visits and public events.
Regional Development Agency Advantage West Midlands has put up £3 million toward the development and operation of the centre.
The ribbon was cut on the new centre Last Tuesday (Dec 1) by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal last week.
Princess Anne was given a tour of the facilities and attended a debate on the future of food security, chaired by Sir Roy McNulty, chairman of Advantage West Midlands, which took place in the new academy’s lecture theatre.
The panel of experts for the debate included Dr Alec Kyriakides, head of product safety at Sainsbury’s; Justine Fosh, director of the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing; and Dr Steven J Walker, director general of Campden BRI food researchers.
Said Roy McNulty: “I believe the new academy will be an excellent asset for the region, making a real difference to the economy of the West Midlands, as well as drawing national and international attention to the key role that the West Midlands plays in the production and processing of food in the UK.
“The food and drink industry has many challenges ahead – climate change, healthier ingredients (salt, fat and sugar reduction) and an aging workforce. Solutions to these issues will come from support for the knowledge sector, and for people to develop the skills to address these challenges.
“The new centre will also help to deliver two key priorities of the West Midlands Economic Strategy: to promote a learning and skilful Region and to create conditions for business growth and economic growth, both of which are crucial in helping to increase productivity.”