Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, has enjoyed a tour of the cutting edge ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
The Minister was welcomed and hosted by Centre Director David Lloyd, who is also Vice Chairman of the Wales Food and Drink Industry Board, Operations and Technical Manager Helen Taylor, Martin Sutherland, Head of Marketing and Business Consultancy and Ian Mathieson, Deputy Dean of the School of Health Sciences.
The Centre is instrumental in informing the private sector and Welsh Government and advising on issues affecting the sector. It provides the food and drink industry with technical, operational and commercial support to enable businesses to compete more effectively in the market place
Over 120 knowledge transfer programmes have been delivered at the centre, placing food graduates into the food and drink industry. This has resulted in an increased turnover of £103 million for local food and drink businesses, creating over 580 jobs and launching over 500 new products into major UK retailers.
The Minister's visit included a tour of the Centre's food processing facilities, test kitchen, sensory suite, Health Assessment Suite/Physiology Laboratory and Biomedical Sciences Research Facilities.
Food and drink businesses can consult with the University's experts, including internationally recognised experts in Food Science, Nutrition, Dietetics, Food Legislation, Environmental Health, Trading Standards, New Product Development, Food Safety and Biomedical Sciences.
The Centre's food academics also focus on food safety, quality and regulation. The academic team works with a range of businesses from start-ups to large global corporations as well as conducting research into food safety culture change.
Ms Griffiths was impressed with the range of analytical equipment available to researchers, students and clients to enable them to master a number of techniques for research purposes or in readiness for employment in the food and drink manufacturing sector.
She said: "Today's visit was good for me to see at first hand the outstanding facilities provided at the ZERO2FIVE Food industry Centre, particularly in terms of the excellent support available to SMEs when launching products."
David Lloyd, ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre Director added: "The Centre is strategically positioned to maximise the growth of partner companies through innovation and the identification of, and entry into, new markets.
"The technical, operational and market expertise available at the Centre, allied with its partner centres within Food Innovation Wales, will help the sector reach the Welsh Government growth target for the sector in the coming years."