Research for the world
July 01, 1996
by Teresa Acklin
New facility dedicated for leading cereals research center in U.K
By Diane Montague, European Correspondent
A new building that brings together under one roof the United Kingdom's leading independent research work on cereals and cereal processing was opened by the U.K.'s Princess Royal at the end of June. The U.S.$3.75 million Chorleywood Building at Chipping Campden in Glou-cestershire has been constructed following the merger, 18 months ago, of the Flour Milling and Baking Research Association and the Campden Food and Drink Research Association.
Staff continued to work at the old Chorleywood site in Hertfordshire until the new building was completed. Meanwhile, the site in Hert-fordshire has been sold and the proceeds used to finance the cost of the new building.
The 2,340 square meter building on the Campden site provides purpose-built facilities for research on wheat, cereal processing, baking, wheat and flour testing, plus laboratories for strategic work in cereals science. In addition, it now houses the Association's sections on mathematics, computers and food process engineering.
The Campden and Chor-leywood Food Research Association at Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire is now the largest membership-based food research association in the world with more than 1,600 member companies in 45 countries. It has a staff of 300 working on all aspects of food and drink processing, storage, safety and quality.
STEEP FUNDING CUTS.
The merger of Campden and the F.M.B.R.A. came about partly as a result of the need to rationalize research work in response to cuts in government funding, partly in response to the contraction in the number of companies in milling and baking industries and partly in recognition of the need for closer lines between all sectors of food research. As manufacturers became involved in a wider range of food materials and products and more food is brought in processed or ready prepared form, the need for a constant interchange between different research disciplines increased. The merger was made easier by the fact that Colin Dennis, director general of Campden, also had taken over at F.M.B.R.A. following the appointment of its former director general, Alan Malcolm, as director of the Institute of Food Research.
"We are very optimistic of the combined strength of the new organization and service we can offer to the agriculture and food industries," Professor Dennis said.
He said it was also very encouraging that membership had increased since the merger. In 1995, more than 130 new members joined, and another 60 companies have signed up so far this year.
The merger will help to maintain levels of research despite financial pressures. Government funding for the two organizations has fallen dramatically in the past five years. In the late 1980s, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food contributed 30% of the cost of the research projects of both organizations, but by 1995, MAFF's contribution had fallen to 12%. This year, it has fallen further to only 6%, with another 6% from the gov-ernment's share of the LINK projects, which are funded jointly by commercial organizations and the Department of Trade and Industry.
two organizations has fallen dramatically in the past five years. In the late 1980s, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food contributed 30% of the cost of the research projects of both organizations, but by 1995, MAFF's contribution had fallen to 12%. This year, it has fallen further to only 6%, with another 6% from the gov-ernment's share of the LINK projects, which are funded jointly by commercial organizations and the Department of Trade and Industry.
A contribution from the European Union brings official sources of funding to 20%. However, the lion's share of 80% of the Association's current annual income of U.S.$15 million comes from the industry or from levy boards such as the Home-Grown Cereals Authority, which themselves are funded by the farming and food industry.
The F.M.B.R.A. was formed from a merger in 1967 of the Research Association of British Flour Millers and the British Baking Industries Research Association. Its main focus was the milling and baking sector including customers and suppliers.
The organization, based in Hertfordshire, made a global impact on the milling and bread-making industry about 25 years ago with its development of the Chorleywood Bread Process, which opened the way for the production of white sliced bread with lower protein flours and shorter fermentation times using high speed mechanical mixing of dough. Since then its work has focused on the very specialist areas of wheat quality and milling and baking technology.
Inevitably, the scope for major advances in research in this area has been limited. At the same time, the number of companies in the industry has fallen while larger companies have expanded their own research units in the competition to develop new and exclusive products.
Food research was first established at Chipping Camp-den in 1919 by the U.K. government. After approximately 30 years as part of Bristol University, the Fruit and Vegetable Canning and Quick Freezing Research Association was established in 1952.
Originally concentrated on the canning industry, the Association's work was gradually widened to cover other methods of food preservation and subsequently food processing. This included chemistry, process engineering, methods of analysis, quality control, preservation, packaging and hygiene, sensory science and consumer research. In particular, Camp-den developed a high level of expertise in microbiology and pesticide residues — both of which have become increasingly important in the food industry in recent years.
Campden, however, did very little work in the cereals sector, which was becoming a disadvantage to companies whose operations involved the whole range of food raw materials. So a merger of the two organizations made a lot of sense both technically and economically, says John Murray, director general of the National Association of British and Irish Millers, whose members funded the F.M.B.R.A.
Each research sector at Campden is represented by a technical advisory panel. To incorporate the Chorleywood work, a new Cereals, Milling and Baking panel has been created, bringing the total number to 12. The original F.M.B.R.A. panels have become working parties within the new panel. Some aspects of milling and baking will be covered by other panels. At the same time, a new research and development activity on cereal foods has been added to Campden's existing nine areas.
"The formation of the new panel provides the cereals, milling and baking sectors with unprecedented opportunities to benefit from interaction with scientific and technological advances across the whole food industry," said Dr. Ed Filmore, cereals panel chairman.
Panel members include plant breeders, millers, bakers, allied traders and retailers. The working parties are involved with milling, wheat and flour testing, bread, flour, confectionery and biscuits and extruded foods.
Mr. Murray of NABIM says that the new structure has enabled the industry to become more involved. The money from NABIM members is now directly managed on a contract basis, and companies can see how it is spent. The main areas of research currently include monitoring pesticide residues, mycotoxins and factors affecting gluten quality and Hagberg numbers.
One of the most interesting developments in the cereals sector last year was the launch of the second part of a computer software program that diagnoses faults in cake production and advises on how to correct them. Using the computer program, bakers select and describe the appearance of a cake based on scanned images within the program.
Other information is then added on physical characteristics, flavor, texture and smell. The system brings the information together and suggests ways of improving the product by processing or the quality or quantity of the ingredients.
Another development is the bran scan, which monitors the bran content of flour and provides quality control and in-line process control.
In addition to research, the organization provides training courses in many aspects of food and drink production. The demand for these courses is increasing with consumer concern about methods of food production. Last year, the number of courses was increased by 20% and more than 3,000 people attended training events and conferences.
The U.K.'s Princess Royal participated in the dedication of the Chorleywood Building, a U.S.$3.75-million research facility for the Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association in the U.K