Karen Tocher, business events manager at Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau, examines the region’s excellence in food and drink…
Mix two parts innovation with one part ingenuity and add a dollop of collaboration… and you’re partway to the region’s world-class recipe for legendary food and drink development.
Across the region, Pathfinders and innovators are advancing the world of food and drink in incredible ways – often blending the decades of growing expertise with the latest technologies.
Here’s a little taster to whet your appetite…
Intelligent Growth Solutions’ vertical farms, found on the James Hutton Institute’s campus, have incredible potential to impact the way in which food is grown in the future. Not only can the systems be used to grow food with specific characteristics useful to industry, they can also cultivate ‘bad’ crops – allowing researchers easy access to the plants they need to make new advances.
Although the vertical farms have the potential to allow food producers to grow crops in previously unfarmable conditions, poor soil quality is certainly not an issue we have here in the local area.
The region is known for its soft fruits – perhaps one of the reasons why the James Hutton Institute has had a decades-long relationship with Lucozade Ribena Suntory to breed new varieties of blackcurrant for the beloved drink, Ribena. That local expertise and knowledge allows the scientists at the Institute to select the specific characteristics the juicemakers require in order to maximise on flavour and investment.
But it’s not just berries the James Hutton Institute is interested in. Potatoes, barley and numerous other crops are all under investigation at its Invergowrie site – and it certainly doesn’t shy away from collaborating with other centres of excellence to ensure its research is at the forefront of plant science.
While some of that knowledge transfer occurs overseas, at other times it has a more local flavour.
The University of Dundee, for example, worked with researchers at the Institute to discover that wild potato genes may hold the cure for commercial crops affected by the dreaded late blight. And Abertay University collaborated with the Institute on a project to investigate the environmental and dietary benefits of pulses. As a result, the two institutes collaborated with Barney’s Beer to brew the unusual – but delicious – Cool Beans IPA, a sustainable beer made from a mix of fava beans and barley.
The work builds on Abertay’s reputation for food research expertise. Having recently opened its state-of-the-art food labs, the university is home to a research partnership which is investigating how products may be made from fruit that would usually go to waste. Health supplements and food colourings are amongst the products already being developed.
It’s long been know that Dundee, Angus, Fife and Perthshire have a taste for innovation – that’s why the region has a reputation for being the place where ideas become legend.