Food & Drink Special Interest Group
A community for process professionals
05 June 2017

Building FMCG Structure Through Enginering Conference Report

Around 40 members of the IChemE, representing a wide range of companies and universities, gathered together at the Campden BRI Chipping Campden campus to share some of the latest exciting work in the FMCG sector. A diverse selection of topics were covered, from cutting edge analytical methods through to designing foods that could address the modern-day prevalence of obesity.

The keynote speaker of the day was Professor Ian Norton from the University of Birmingham, whose talk on “FMCG microstructure and manufacturing” discussed treating the mouth as an engineering problem, and using microstructures to yield desirable properties in food such as reduced fat content and controlled flavour release. Following his talk was Professor Peter Wilde from IFR (Institute of Food Research), with “Chewing the fat: The physics of fat consumption and digestion” This talk established the contrast with the modern diet in comparison to the ancestral diet. Peter went on to talk about the possibility of leveraging the interaction between bile salts and food in the digestive system, in order to design foods that provide prolonged nutrient release and suppression of appetite.

Following a break, Dr Gary Tucker from Camden BRI (on his “home turf” so to speak!) shared some work with us on “Energy Savings by reducing baking time for sandwich bread” and also covered some of the issues that could be encountered when adjusting the bread making process, including ensuring a sufficient kill step for microbes to avoid “ropey bread”, maintaining the process-ability of the dough and achieving sufficient browning during baking. Afterwards, Dr Laura Malhi from Mondelēz International talked about steps towards Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things in her talk on using NIR to measure and control chocolate properties, specifically developing a method to measure degree of temper without the need for an operator to take samples.

Lunch was next, and an opportunity to make new connections and discuss the work that had been shared so far in the conference. We then were invited to take an interesting and highly informative walking tour of the Campden BRI site and see some of the research facilities as well as learn about the many types of work taking place on site.

After the tour Prof Keshavan Niranjan, University of Reading took us through the many uses of bubbles in foods in “Development and stability of bubble containing food structures” including why foods are designed to contain bubbles in the first place, how bubbles can be introduced to foods and a study on the impacts of a range of gases on the final structure of an aerated chocolate bar. This talk finished with a particularly enthusiastic Q&A session at the end! Dr David Slade from PSE (Process Systems Enterprise) was up next with a talk on “Advanced process modelling approach to design optimisation of a batch fermentation process in a continuous infant milk plant” which was definitely in the running for longest talk title of the day…David shared some of the work conducted by PSE using an advanced process modelling platform (gPROMs) to identify the number of parallel units required at specific process stages to accommodate a cleaning cycle whilst maintaining continuous operation.

Finally we moved on to what was termed the “political” section of the agenda as we were joined by Dr Yvonne Armitage from the Knowledge Transfer Network. Her talk, “Industrial Strategy and the Industry Strategy Challenge Fund; understanding the opportunities” went over the 10 strategy pillars used to guide investment into new technologies and research in the UK, and the role of the FMCG sector within those pillars. Finally, Prof Peter Lillford from the University of Birmingham spoke on “Pressures in the food and drink industry”, the challenges faced across the industry and the strategy development to address those needs. As part of this, the group was invited to feedback about how they felt about the planned allocation of resources across a number of different research and improvement areas to better guide the direction going forwards.

Overall the Building FMCG Structure through Engineering Conference was a great opportunity for all involved to share knowledge and ideas and get an up-to-date overview of industrial strategy in the UK. Many thanks to the speakers and also the committee members who organised the day and ensured that it ran smoothly from start to finish. Thanks also to Campden BRI who hosted the event and we look forward to future events as enjoyable as this one!

Written by Ellie Cohen from Mondelez International


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