The Interface Food & Drink Competition - A Winning Tail

Scottish salmon farms

Two Scottish companies from the food and drink sector share £80,000 as winners of Interface Food & Drink’s Innovation Competition researching consumer tastes and making profits from waste.

Interface Food & Drink – the organisation which stimulates innovation in the industry/sector by promoting partnerships between businesses and academics - is pleased to announce that The Scottish Salmon Company and Dawnfresh will each receive almost £40,000 to support partnerships with Scottish universities.

The competition, made possible with funding from Scottish Funding Council and with criteria set by leaders from Scotland’s food and drink industry, judged each entrant on its innovation; the likely impact, whether economic or environmental; the commitment of the company to the project and the project’s relevance to current industry issues such as supply chain efficiencies, energy and sustainability, and how their proposed projects might establish and develop new global market opportunities.

Helen Pratt, Project Manager at Interface Food & Drink said,

“Innovation is the lifeblood of the industry. We believe that by getting industry and academia to collaborate, we can achieve exciting advances that will keep Scotland at the forefront of the sector, and that is the reason why we have created this competition.”

The following competition winners will begin 12 month partnerships with Scottish universities to develop their projects.

Dawnfresh, a Scottish company producing fish and seafood to the retail and food service markets both for the UK and around the world as well as being the largest trout farmers in the UK, will work with Abertay University’s School of Science, Engineering and Technology to build an in-depth understanding of how consumers respond to trout products according to variations in the supply chain, processing, origin, seasonality, smoking techniques and various other points.  This research will draw together a consumer panel, a trained trout panel and instrumental data including Omega 3 content, full nutritional analysis, aroma compounds of interest. Dawnfresh will be able to use this information to better control variations in the farming and processing of the fish to align with consumer preferences.

According to Russell Donaldson, Head of Marketing at Dawnfresh,

“At Dawnfresh, we are constantly working to understand our customers, and the consumers of our trout products. This award will allow us to further research on how we can exceed consumer expectations. We will be able to refine and adapt our processes, as well as developing products with the consumer in mind. We’re delighted to have won, and looking forward to furthering our relationship with Abertay University”

The Scottish Salmon Company is an independent producer of salmon with current production representing around 20% of all salmon produced in Scotland. The company has been awarded funding to work with the University of Aberdeen to investigate the potential for conversion of the wastewater from their processing plants into valuable fuels and chemicals such as ethanol, organic acids and hydrogen through anaerobic fermentation. The Scottish Salmon Company will be looking to generate revenue from the wastewaters and savings on the charges for effluent treatment or disposal and further reduce its impact on the environment. 

Craig Anderson, Managing Director at The Scottish Salmon Company said,

“We operate in a competitive market and innovation plays an important role in helping realise enhanced ways of working at sites across Scotland.

“The money that we have won through the Interface Food & Drink competition will allow us to work with the University of Aberdeen to reduce waste and its associated costs. We hope this will lead to an ongoing relationship with the university; something which should be of long term value to all parties.

“We’d like to thank the judges for recognising the potential this project has and look forward to starting work in the near future.”

Congratulating these two aquaculture companies, who are also members of the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre consortium, Heather Jones, Chief Executive, said:

“My hearty congratulations to Dawnfresh and The Scottish Salmon Company. These two Scottish aquaculture businesses are showing a strong innovative impulse to grow. They are driving continuous improvement in their businesses, in collaboration with Scotland’s university research base. These projects will further enhance the reputation of the aquaculture industry, showing commendable commitment to sustainability and meeting consumer needs.”

Interface Food & Drink is funded by Scottish Funding Council and was set up with the aim of promoting partnerships between businesses and academics to drive innovation through knowledge exchange, collaboration and funding.

The five year project covers the whole of Scotland and the entire food chain from primary agriculture/fishing to production and processing through to retail and export.

Its mission is to create greater impact from academic collaboration. One way of doing this is by creating opportunities for groups of companies to unite and work together, with Scotland’s world leading academics, to overcome common industry challenges.

So far they have eight Common Interest Groups which include: Scottish Rapeseed Oil , a group of 8 independent cold pressed rapeseed oil producers who are working together to expand the Scottish market and have applied for Protected Name Status in a campaign spearheaded by Richard Lochhead MSP;  Scottish Seaweed who are working to address knowledge, market and infrastructure gaps as this new and exciting industry develops; and the Scottish Craft Distillers Association a group of 30 spirit producers who are working together to support the growth of craft distilling in Scotland.

To support these groups and to ensure they can capitalise on the opportunities of working with academia Interface Food & Drink is also running a further competition where groups of companies are able to win up to £50,000 of grant funding.