The University of Sydney has opened a new training center for the food processing industry intended to boost Australia's food technology and manufacturing capacity.
The aim is to help the local industry successfully compete in the global market by developing better methods of food processing and storage, as well as more advanced manufacturing techniques to reduce costs and increase energy efficiency.
In particular, the facility is expected to lead to improvements in the production of nutraceuticals — food products that are fortified with vitamins or minerals — for pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements and food ingredients.
"These high-value products have the potential to significantly increase Australian exports in agribusiness," commented Professor Aidan Byrne, CEO of the Australian Research Council (ARC).
Professor Fariba Dehghani, co-director of the new facility, added: "The center will design cost-effective and sustainable processes for producing these types of products with a view to minimizing waste while enhancing efficiency and reducing energy consumption."
Called the "ARC training center for the Australian food processing industry in the 21st Century" (ARCFPTC), the facility has been granted A$3 million ($2.6 million) over three years from the Australian Research Council through its Industrial Transformation Research Program. In addition, industry partners have provided cash and in-kind contributions.
The center will provide a multidisciplinary research environment that includes 14 researchers from engineering, agriculture, science and medicine, as well as international collaborators and 10 food and biotechnology industry partners.