CARBERY is conducting cutting-edge research into gut health, immunity, muscle and bone health, which it has identified as key focus areas for today’s consumer.
Its teams are also working to substantiate the benefits of consuming Irish dairy produce, which they are confident will keep them at the forefront of the industry.
The Ballineen based food business, along with other dairy leaders – Dairygold, Glanbia and Kerry – recently announced an investment of €7.2m into Food for Health Ireland (FHI), a technology centre based in University College Dublin (UCD) that aims to improve global health through innovation in functional food.
Enterprise Ireland announced a similar investment.
Carbery’s innovation director, Áine Hallihan, explained how they were a founding industry partner of FHI when it started in 2008.
The centre is based on the premise that while, traditionally, many consumers depended on pill or capsule formats to address their health and wellness needs, people are now turning to food and beverage formats with proven health benefits.
Its objective is to provide its partners (i.e. Carbery) with a competitive edge in the global food market and for the long-term competitiveness of Irish dairy post-Brexit.
Áine explained: ‘As a member of FHI, it provides access to world class science, and a multidisciplinary team of up to 50 scientists. This includes experts in seven major Irish public research organisations (UCD, UL, DCU, UCC, NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway and Teagasc).
‘This in turn allows us to advance our health and wellness product portfolio to the next level, while it complements and supports our own internal research and development strategy,’ she said.
‘Carbery, along with the other industry partners, helps to direct the research strategy within FHI. The ultimate goal is to develop new functional food ingredients and products with validated health benefits for consumers and substantiate the benefits of consuming Irish dairy produce.’
This is the third phase of FHI and it will run until 2023.
The three focus areas for five years involve researching the metabolic and cardiovascular benefits of Irish cheddar; creating differentiation in Irish grass-fed dairy on the basis of nutrition, health benefits and sensory attributes; and developing fermented dairy ingredients to enhance digestive health.
Áine says that since they’ve been involved with FHI, their workers have adopted new skills and research outputs that have supported some of their new products in the marketplace.
‘Longer-term, this will facilitate the development of unique nutritional ingredients and cheeses that deliver proven health benefits to consumers. In the latest research programme, we are focused on key areas of health including, gut health, immunity, muscle and bone health, which are all key focus areas for today’s consumer.
‘The dairy industry is a progressive and innovative space, and as a member of FHI. this will allow us to remain at the forefront of dairy industry.’