Foster announces new food technology breakthrough
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has announced innovative technology developed by Carritech Research in Belfast that could help improve nutrition for children, the elderly and the obese.
The company, a technology startup, is pioneering the development of honeycomb textured products that can be loaded with essential nutrients for healthier eating in both developed and developing worlds, a global marketplace worth around £350billion.
Arlene Foster said: “Carritech Research is now at the leading-edge of potentially very exciting technology that could position Northern Ireland at the very forefront of the rapidly developing functional foods sector. But perhaps of much greater significance is the contribution that this pioneering technology could make to addressing Third World hunger.
“Food and drink, of course, is a strategically important industry for Northern Ireland and is currently worth over £4 billion annually to the local economy. I am keen to encourage companies here to invest in R&D and new product development particularly for global markets. Research-driven companies like Carritech are providing essential leadership in a very dynamic sector.”
The Invest Northern Ireland-backed research company has its headquarters at the Innovation Centre in the Northern Ireland Science Park.
Dr Richard Horton, Carritech’s founder and Managing Director, added: “Many of the nutrients we are able to incorporate in these new products often do not feature adequately in our diets, because they are present in foods that are regarded either as unpleasant or else difficult to obtain in sufficient quantity.
“We are targeting ‘picky eaters’, people who struggle to find time to eat proper meals, people who dislike or are tired of taking pills and supplements, and people who simply cannot obtain the nutrition they need.
“A key feature of our innovative formulation and process technology is that it enables us to incorporate heat- and light-sensitive nutrients in our products – nutrients that would be destroyed or damaged in conventional biscuit and snack production processes.
“Another feature of our technology is that the ingredients and the processes we use cost no more than those used in conventional biscuit and snack production, and yet our products contain the nutrients we need, with no unwanted additives.
“For consumers who are concerned about obesity or losing weight, we can make products that are high in fibre and low in calories. For regions of the world that struggle to get enough calories, we can load our products with proteins and high-energy ingredients.”
Carritech has successfully developed new ‘proof of concept’ healthy snack products as part of its plans to help revolutionise the way we think about nutrition and ‘personal health’.
The technology can also be applied to deliver a wide range of products for human nutrition and medical markets, as well as for animal nutrition and veterinary applications.
The company is being supported by a number of leading ingredient and food process equipment companies, and by Invest Northern Ireland through R&D support and other programmes. Invest NI’s support for R&D includes part funding from the European Regional Development Fund.