Rt Hon. Andrea Leadsom MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has visited Cardiff Metropolitan University’s ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre to learn about key Welsh food and drink projects and discuss some of the main sector challenges posed by the UK’s forthcoming exit from the EU.
Andrea Leadsom MP was welcomed by Cardiff Met’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cara Aitchison during the visit, which showcased the variety of industry support provided by the Centre.
Mrs Leadsom, who was appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in Theresa May’s first Cabinet, was joined by Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, during the tour of facilities.
They witnessed how research at the Centre benefits the industry; discussed European and Welsh Government funding – and the implications of Brexit – on the food and drink sector and learnt about the sector’s skills requirements.
The ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University is one of three sites that form Food Innovation Wales, a collaborative Welsh Government-funded Rural Development Programme project which focuses on innovation within the Food and Drink Sector in Wales.
The industry-leading Centre, which provides technical, operational and commercial support to enable Welsh food and drink businesses compete more effectively, also provides extensive industry training, thereby addressing the sector’s skills shortage.
Food and drink businesses are able to consult with the University’s experts, including internationally recognised specialists in Food Science, Nutrition, Dietetics, Food Legislation, Environmental Health, Trading Standards, New Product Development, Food Safety and Biomedical Sciences.
Mrs Leadsom – who campaigned strongly for the UK to leave the EU and stood as one of the final two Conservative Party leadership candidates after David Cameron’s resignation as Prime Minister – was shown the outputs from previous programmes such as the KITE Project (Knowledge Innovation Technology Exchange.)
This has been funded by the EU and Welsh Government and facilitates a proactive partnership between SME food businesses, graduates and individuals with industry experience, the ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre and Coleg Menai’s Food Technology Centre.
Over 120 knowledge transfer programmes have been delivered at the Centre, placing Food Science and Technology graduates into the food and drink industry. This has resulted in an increased turnover of £103 million for Welsh food and drink businesses, creating over 580 jobs and launching over 500 new products to market.
Professor Cara Aitchison, President and Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff Metropolitan University added: ‘We were pleased to welcome the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to showcase our research and innovation in food science and technology and to hear her views about the expertise in the ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre.
“The food and drink industry is a major export for the Welsh economy and an important component of the tourism and visitor economy in Wales. There is no doubt that leaving the European Union will have an impact both in the reduction of funding for research, agriculture and rural development and in potential loss of access to the single market of the EU. It was therefore interesting to hear the Secretary of State’s proposals for how we might move beyond Brexit in developing this key sector of the economy.”
(from left to right): Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Rt Hon. Andrea Leadsom MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Professor Cara Aitchison, President and Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff Metropolitan University