Sheffield City Council leader and chief executive visit pioneering Hallam food engineering research centre

3rd December 2021

Sheffield Hallam University has welcomed Council Leader Terry Fox and Chief Executive Kate Josephs to the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering (NCEFE).

The Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park-based centre specialises in developing materials and engineering solutions to meet the challenges facing the food and drink sector -including delivering more environmentally sustainable and efficient food processing systems. 

As part of the visit, marking the second-year anniversary since the opening of the National Centre of Excellence in late 2019, Cllr Fox and Ms Josephs met the centre’s director Martin Howarth who took them on a short tour and highlighted a number of key projects. 

This included a chocolate delivery system, installed by Wath-upon-Dearne based technology firm Zeck. The revolutionary system uses electricity, rather than water-jacketed pipes heated by gas, to keep the chocolate in a liquid state. 

The technology represents an energy saving of up to 90% and cuts out any chance of water contaminating the product. 

They also viewed new rice milling systems by Koolmill who are working with NCEFE to transform the future of rice and grain milling by optimising processes and reducing waste. 

By 2050, the number of people who eat rice daily will rise to six billion and using current milling technology, production will have to increase by 70% to deliver the required quantity of food into the supply chain. 

Annually, enough rice to feed 600 million people is lost from paddy to plate. 

Koolmill machinery provides a simplified, cold process which works gently with rice to deliver more food from existing harvests.The technology uses up to 90% less power but increases the amount of food produced by over 20%. 

Martin Howarth, Director of the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering, said: “It has been a pleasure to show Terry and Kate the valuable and innovative work we are doing at NCEFE and celebrate all we have achieved since opening two years ago. 

“As a centre, we are uniquely placed to respond to the UK food industry’s new and urgent demand for flexible engineering and processing solutions to increase speed, agility and volume of production but also create a sustainable food future for all.” 

Councillor Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “It’s been fantastic to see the ground-breaking research being done at the Food Engineering Research Centre and to meet the engineers who have chosen Sheffield as the base for their work. Sustainability is a key priority for the Council and influences decisions across all of our services. 

“This centre shows how small changes can make a big difference in reducing waste and protecting our climate, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the centre grows from here.” 

Kate Josephs, Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council, said: “Sheffield is known internationally as a hub of innovation and engineering, and the work at this centre demonstrates the expertise and skills we have in the city. 

“In two short years the centre has gone from strength-to-strength, and it’s been fascinating to see their technology in practice. It’s a great addition to the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, which is home to a wealth of pioneering research that we can all be proud of.” 

Sheffield City Councillors Mazher Iqbal and Mary Lea, who both represent Darnall Ward, were also part of the visit to the Centre. 

NCEFE and the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre form the University’s innovation hub at the Olympic Legacy Park. Expanding this hub is a key commitment in the economy and jobs section of Sheffield Hallam’s Civic University Agreement, helping to unlock the potential of the area and attract further external funding. 

The University aims to build on the success of both research centres to develop the area to attract more investment and work with local employers to boost productivity across the region. 

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