No forward thinking producer can afford to ignore the changing landscape – with public health targets, legislation and even a more discerning and educated consumer leaning towards a healthier lifestyle.
Getting help from the experts
However, for many producers – especially SMMEs – the costs involved make reformulation just a dream. Especially in tapping the institutions to help overcome the more technical challenges.
The Scottish Healthier Product Innovation Fund – developed by Interface and FDF Scotland’s Reformulation for Health Programme, and funded through the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership’s Recovery Plan – is designed to ensure producers don’t stumble at the first hurdle.
F&B manufacturers based in Scotland can apply for grants between £5,000 and £10,000, which will be paid directly to the University, Research Institute or College in Scotland for project costs (time, facilities, consumables).
The academic support can come in the form of technical, mentoring, consumer and sensory work, and testing and analysis to produce market-ready BFY products. However, credit will also be given to companies wanting to embed the learning and processes to develop healthier products themselves.
Reformulation is unique to each company and product – ranging from the reduction of fat, salt and sugar; enrichment with added fibre, fruit and vegetables; calorie value; replacing ingredients with healthier alternatives; and providing clearer consumer health information.
According to FDF Scotland, the funding can be used to improve existing products from a health perspective, but not to evidence its ‘healthiness’ against a competitor or alternative on the market. The aim is about making products healthier.
How to apply
The HPIF fund is open to businesses of any size working in the Scottish Food and Drink sector and its supply chain, such as ingredients specialists.
The manufacturer and academic partner must jointly apply. Here, Interface provides a free and impartial introduction service to partner companies with relevant academic partners, if necessary.
The HPIF works on the same principles as the Scottish Funding Council’s Innovation Voucher programme, with a few differentials:
- Companies that have previously collaborated with academia or have an existing relationship are still eligible for consideration.
- Both recipe development and changes to existing recipes are eligible.
- Multi partner applications will be considered if there is a defined lead business and lead academic partner.
One caveat: Producers will need to contribute an equal value in cash or in kind (staff time, materials, equipment and data supplied or collated), which will also be paid directly to the academic partner.
Deadline for applications is end-of-business on 28 April 2023. Submission will be judged by a panel and candidates will be informed of the outcome in the week commencing 8 May. No work or confirmation of spend should be done before receiving confirmation.
FDF Scotland will host a showcase event around healthier products and reformulation in early 2024, where some of the projects may be used as case studies and presentations.