Ice cream makers in the East Midlands are being given a cool opportunity to find ways of boosting their bottom line and increasing profits.
The Food and Drink iNet (Innovation Network) is running a project to show ice cream manufacturers how they can reformulate their products using local, more cost-effective ingredients.
Instead of using ready-mixed ingredients, which are often imported from places like Italy, the manufacturers are testing to see if they can make ice cream that’s just as good, if not better, by reformulating their products with more locally sourced ingredients.
This could save thousands of pounds every year on the cost of raw materials, said Food and Drink iNet director Richard Worrall.
Now the team is looking for more ice cream manufacturers from across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland to take part in the project.
“Small, relatively new, ice cream producers usually start their business using several branded ready-mixed ingredients in order to enter the market place quickly and easily,” said Richard Worrall. “These products are of good quality but some, for example, are currently manufactured in Italy, imported and sold via wholesalers. The cost of these ingredients is significant and influenced by exchange rates.
“Several ice cream producers have requested support in finding alternatives that, ideally, are available locally, are cheaper and enable production of similar or better quality ice cream. We are very pleased to be able to launch a project which will help this sector of the food industry in the East Midlands to become more profitable and more sustainable.”
Food experts at Nottingham Trent University’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences have been hired to show the manufacturers how they could reformulate their quality ice cream products using basic raw materials instead of buying ready-mixed ingredients.
They are working with ingredients specialists regionally and nationally on the project.
Mike Dixon, senior lecturer in Food Science at Nottingham Trent University, said: “We are already in contact with a number of small and medium-sized ice cream manufacturers in the region – illustrating alternative ingredient options, how to use them without compromising on quality and how to find these ingredients – but we would be very pleased to hear from any others who are interested in finding out how they could potentially create cost savings for their businesses.”
The Food and Drink iNet, which is funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), aims to encourage innovation in the region’s food and drink sector through new ways of working, new product development and the introduction of new processes.
With advisors working across Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland, it links academic and private sector expertise and knowledge with local food and drink business innovation needs.
The ice cream project is one of its Collaborate to Innovate initiatives which seeks to develop and deliver projects to enable groups of small and medium-sized enterprise businesses in the food and drink supply chain in the East Midlands to work collaboratively amongst themselves and with other key partners to overcome common problems by introducing innovation into their companies and improving their economic and competitive performance.
The Food and Drink iNet is managed by a consortium, led by the Food and Drink Forum and including Food Processing Faraday, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Lincoln, and the University of Nottingham. For more information visit www.eminnovation.org.uk/food or contact the iNet via firstname.lastname@example.org
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