Dairy funding guide unlocks R&D potential

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Milk

A new guide telling dairy firms where they can get research and
development funding to tap in to value-added and functional dairy
trends has been launched by industry body Dairy UK.

The guide contains detailed information for both small and large producers on the different sources available to help fund research and development projects. These include opportunities for individual projects and collaborative work.

Adding value to a dairy sector that has become too 'commodified' in some categories is the great conundrum that many dairy producers are now grappling with.

The Department of Trade and Industry's LINK scheme is one of the best known R&D aids in the UK. Yet, the guide says that large amounts of funding are also available through the lottery-funded National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts and the Collaborative Research and Development group.

Special tax breaks are also outlined for small and medium-sized companies, such as the right to claim 150 per cent Corporate Tax relief on certain expenditures connected to R&D.

Firms may be able to claim tax credits if they spend at least £10,000 in the year on legitimate R&D.

Dairy UK hopes that its funding guide will help more dairy producers to keep up with the global industry's fast-paced development of functional and value-added dairy products.

Ian Wakeling, information manager at Dairy UK, said all firms needed to innovate but "securing finance to help with this can be a difficult process"​.

Peter Dawson, policy director at Dairy UK, agreed. "There are now a large number of bodies that undertake this sort of activity, and it took us quite some time to pull together some of that information."

It is the first time Dairy UK has put together such a guide.

"The successful exploitation of new ideas, incorporating new technologies, design and best practice, is the key process that enables companies to compete successfully and profitably,"​ said Wakeling.

A recent global dairy products report by Euromonitor​ said value-added and functional dairy were increasingly seen as ways of re-invigorating a sector that consumers have come to see as a commodity, as well as easing pressure on operating margins.

And the last few months have seen heightened activity on the UK market. Dairy Crest, one of Britain's top three dairy processors, recently launched St Ivel Advance milk at up-market retailer Waitrose. Advance contains half the recommended daily intake of omega-3 and is 30 to 40 per cent more expensive than 'normal' milk.

Meanwhile, Britain's third largest supermarket, Sainsbury's, has announced it will stock Bravo! Brands' flavoured milk drinks, fortified with a variety of vitamins.

Research and development has been thrust to the forefront of the increasingly competitive dairy sector.

Irish dairy and food group, Dairygold, said in June that it would spend €15.6m on a new R&D centre set to double the firm's R&D department.

The centre, supported by Enterprise Ireland, a government agency responsible for the development of the Irish industry, is expected to be operational by 2007 and will have capacity for 50 personnel.

For more information on Dairy UK's new R&D funding guide, or to download your own copy, click here​.

Related topics: R&D

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