Food & Drink

Interface has access to hundreds of academic experts and facilities useful to the Food & Drink Industry, from new product development and consumer research through to sustainability, waste management and engineering.

The turnover of the Scottish food and drink sector was £14.3billion in 2013 and is targeting £16.5billion by 2017. Scotland is blessed with a vibrant food and drink industry, covering a wide variety of sectors, including fish, meat, agriculture, bakery, confectionery and, of course, whisky. We work with them all, both through collaborative groups and with individual companies as highlighted through the selection of case studies.

With the food and drink sector set to grow by 19% in the next five years innovation will be essential to ensure this growth and is also key in meeting the demands of an increasingly knowledgeable consumer while improving efficiencies along the supply chain. Innovation in the food and drink industry involves a lot more than developing new products and flavours and recent projects have seen companies looking to academia for expertise, technologies and facilities including:

  • Adding value to waste
  • Resource Efficiency
  • Food Safety
  • Authenticity and Traceability
  • Consumer and Sensory Analysis
  • Health
  • Smarter Packaging
  • Sensors
  • Smarter Ingredients
  • Reformulation for health
  • Imaging
  • Engineering
  • Brewing and Distilling Challenge
  • Supply Chain & Logistis
  • Mathematical Modelling

All of these areas and many more can be supported by Scotland’s universities with the potential for collaborative projects to include concept generation and selection, simulations and calculations, costing, sustainability, prototyping, brainstorming, design for manufacture, trials and testing.

Working in Collaboration

Interface is involved in multi-party groups to help showcase academic expertise and are actively seeking further opportunities where a number of companies and stakeholders come together and collaborate for mutual benefit. Through sharing of best practise groups can overcome specific challenges for the sector or build knowledge on themes such as resource efficiency or reformulation for health. We have been involved with 16 groups, ranging from primary production including soft fruit, rapeseed oil, potatoes, venison and seaweed, to further processing for chocolatiers, cheese makers, distillers, bakers, butchers and juice makers.

Make Innovation Happen

Make Innovation Happen is a new and ambitious service to support food and drink businesses to innovate. 

Innovation in farming, fishing, food and drink is vital to empower Scotland’s food and drink businesses to respond to today’s consumer and market needs and to adapt to future challenges and opportunities. Research shows that when a company innovates, they are twice as likely to grow and three times more likely to export successfully. Many companies are already making good use of the world-class research base on their doorstep, but there is room to do more.

The new Make Innovation Happen service will provide food and drink businesses in Scotland looking for information and support with a single, streamlined access route to help them innovate. This service includes support for both incremental and disruptive innovation and is open to all businesses across the supply chain from farm to fork.

The Make Innovation Connectors include Interface, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise and are the people who know about the range of support available and can help you tap into the right support for your business. 

Find out more at:

Facilities for the Food & Drink industry

There is an abundance of facilities throughout Scotland’s universities which are available for business and industry to hire and make use of as part of their product or service development process. This commercial adoption of specialist facilities and expertise has already supported numerous food and drink companies from validating health claims of products to developing new and efficient processing techniques which has enabled, amongst other results, faster release of products to market, increases in profits and reductions to waste. 

The pieces of equipment from universities that facilitate these types of development range from food processing, kitchens, food analysis, and commercial production equipment to more specialist facilities, such as microbiology, sensory science, human nutrition and chemistry.  

Read our case study on Lightbody which uses Hyperspectral Imaging (HSI), a specialist technology successfully adapted for the food & drink industry, to discover how equipment can be used for innovative product improvements to increase knowledge and competitive advantage.

Contact us now to find out what facilities are available to help your business grow. 

Interface Food & Drink 

Successfully ran from 2011-2016 with an aim to foster a culture of innovation in the sector through collaborations between industry and academia. Its focus was on achieving economic impact and it specifically encouraged collaborations of industry, trade associations and Common Interest Groups with Scottish universities. IFD funded 100 projects from feasibility studies to PhDs and has forged closer links between academia and industry. 

IFD was heavily involved in setting up and engaging with 16 Common Interest Groups resulting in 27 collaborative projects which have been integral in creating impacts through group working. Read the Interface Food and Drink Reflections Document for further information on the projects undertaken.

Interface will continue to be proactively involved in these groups to deliver projects through academic - business engagement as well as seeking out further opportunities to bring together consortia to collectively deal with innovation challenges.

Please click here for the State Aid information for the Interface Food & Drink project.

If you have any queries about legacy Interface Food and Drink activities, or would like more details on the Common Interest Groups please contact: