Closer strategic links between Ireland and the Netherlands in the area of food research are being developed, particularly in the fields of food technology and food and health. As part of this initiative, the Dutch Ambassador to Ireland, Mr Robert Engels, visited the Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy, Co Cork.
Head of Food Research in Teagasc, Professor Paul Ross presented an overview of the Teagasc food research programme to the Ambassador, followed by a tour of the Teagasc facilities including the National Imaging Centre, the Bio Functional Food Engineering Facility and the Dairy Products Pilot Plant, Moorepark Technology Ltd. Professor Ross noted the tremendous potential there exists for collaboration across the countries particularly in the areas of food and health, functional foods and dairy technology. Indeed, the timing for this may be particularly opportune given the current plans for dairy expansion. “We are already working with many Dutch institutes, companies and universities and this initiative would copper fasten these interactions in a way that should lead to significant economic development on both sides,” said Professor Ross.
Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “The benefits of enhancing co-operation are many. The food innovation landscapes in Ireland and the Netherlands are very comparable. In both economies the food industry plays a central role. The Irish and Dutch governments and businesses are committed to expanding the sector by investing in food innovation. In some areas, Ireland and the Netherlands will be primarily competitors, but that said, businesses in both countries have a lot to gain from enhancing their co-operation.”
The visit of the Dutch Ambassador to the Teagasc facilities is a follow-up to an Irish/Dutch joint food innovation workshop that took place in Dublin last December. Dutch Ambassador Robert Engels said: “Good contacts exist between researchers from both countries and some R&D activities of some Irish companies are based in the Netherlands. Ireland has three big advantages – clean water, environment and a pasture base, which should be fully taken advantage of with regard to dairy products and presents a win-win situation. This visit to Irish food research facilities in Ireland was planned to take place in advance of the upcoming visit of the Irish President Mary McAleese to the Netherlands that will take place in the next couple of weeks.”
Good communication between those involved in food research in both countries exists, due to many existing and historic collaborations, particularly in European funded projects and dairy company interactions. But it is planned that by adopting an overarching and open food innovation approach, a fresh incentive can be provided for joint economic development in the agri-food sector for both countries.
As part of his visit to the UCC/Teagasc Strategic Alliance, the Dutch Ambassador visited the food and health researchers at UCC.