By Hayley O’Neill,
Food Technologist, CAFRE
THE College of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Loughry Campus has lead responsibility for people development and knowledge and technology transfer programmes in the food processing and supply industry.
Loughry Campus supports small and medium-sized businesses innovate through the Invest NI Innovation Voucher programme.
Through a partnership approach, companies access support, specialist knowledge and practical skills required to help promote innovation, develop new products and systems to assist their business to grow.
Innovation Vouchers are not exclusive to food businesses, with the funding stream being active across CAFRE’s portfolio of agriculture, horticulture and equine projects.
The college has a fantastic range of equipment and facilities to advance innovation projects to help businesses compete more efficiently.
The Matthews family has been farming on the Antrim Hill’s since 1688. They are a local lamb producers, immensely proud of their distinctive contribution to the range of incredible food products coming from the Glens of Antrim and the Causeway Coast area.
Eamonn Matthews was the successful recipient of an Invest NI Innovation Voucher worth £5,000. Without hesitation he chose Loughry campus as his preferred knowledge provider. The journey started with the dynamic pairing of Eamonn and Hayley O’Neill, Meat Technologist, CAFRE.
At home, the family already enjoyed traditional favourites such as Irish stew and shepherd’s pie, and were delving into international cuisine with recipes for Rogan Josh and Lamb Tagine. They wished to share these recipes.
“They were too good to keep to ourselves,” said Eamonn.
The funding enabled the commercialisation of Glenarm Redspark Lamb ready meals.
Eamonn continued: “The support from Loughry Campus, along with the funding from Invest NI, provided me with the knowledge I needed to produce my meals on a larger, more commercially viable scale. The support I received was invaluable. Others can benefit as I have done, and I would encourage them to do so.”
The company required the expertise of a trained Food Technologist in the specialism commercialisation of Glenarm Redspark Lamb ready meals. Initial recipes were reviewed and reformulated using the state of the art New Product Development kitchen facilities within the Food Innovation Centre at Loughry campus, CAFRE. Relevant knowledge and expertise was provided in areas, such as ingredient substitution, recipe reformulation, product stability, process development, generation of nutritional information and ingredient declarations, highlighting allergens accordingly for retail labels.
Support was also provided in identifying suitable packaging and equipment options for the commercial manufacture of the meals.
Eamonn is proud to be showcasing his products at the Balmoral Show on Saturday, September 25, where you can enjoy a sample! Eamonn plans to successfully launch these products with local retailers in the near future and hopes that your family will delight in their wonderful tastes as much as his family has. You can view the full product range and order online at www.GlenarmRedsparkLamb.com
n To find out more about what CAFRE does, the Food Technology Team can be contacted at Loughry.firstname.lastname@example.org or www.cafre.ac.uk or follow at discoverCAFRE on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
n If you are interested in Invest NI’s Innovation Voucher programme, applications are welcome until 3pm, Friday, October 1. Further information and access to the online application form is available at www.investni.com/innovation
n Alternatively, if you would like to discuss a potential project, commercially in confidence, or have any queries relating to CAFRE’s role with the Innovation Voucher applications and project delivery, please do not hesitate to contact Anne.Bencze@daera-ni.gov.uk