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15 NI meals companies get a glimpse into the longer term at Ulster College’s meals innovation lab

  • FOOD

Ulster College has welcomed 15 of Northern Eire’s meals and retail companies to its Meals and Shopper Testing Suite (FACTS) to get a glimpse into the way forward for meals innovation.

The testing suite, based mostly on the college’s Coleraine campus, gives a breadth of analysis and insights into client behaviour.

The 15 native firms, together with Irish Black Butter, Baladi Meals and Noisy Snacks, visited the power’s digital actuality lab to take part in a simulation to discover client buying habits, in addition to sensory testing a variety of meals merchandise.

Dr Amy Burns UU, Professor Ioannis Pantelidis UU, Professor Geoff Simmons UU and Michele Shirlow Meals NI

The college’s FACTS facility was arrange 15 years in the past and main initiatives have included working with McDonalds to introduce the McPlant – its first vegan burger within the UK in 2020/21, in addition to working with Spar to introduce the Style Tester Approval Award – the star score discovered on Spar merchandise’ packaging.

Ulster College’s crew additionally works with luxurious model Fortnum and Mason on sensory coaching for 40 of their patrons on merchandise starting from rosé wine to sweets, in addition to working with different native unbiased companies.

Current funding within the facility in Coleraine has seen the creation of the Shopper Insights Lab – a digital actuality grocery store that permits retailers to see how their merchandise will look bodily on the shelf.

That is analysis that Spar has lately tapped into as the primary native firm to broaden its insights into client conduct with Ulster College’s new digital actuality facility.

Kerri Grant, UU PhD scholar

Welcoming the companies to the testing suite, director of Meals and Shopper Testing Suite and senior lecturer, Dr Amy Burns, highlighted the significance for utilizing the power to check merchandise ‘to capitalize on all the senses’.

She continued: “We’re excited to host 15 native companies in our Meals and Shopper Testing Suite facility to reveal the breadth of what we are able to provide right here at Ulster College.

“In our analysis, we’re eager to capitalize on all the senses – style, contact, see, odor, and sound in addition to testing the performance of the product.

“And it is not simply meals that we concentrate on – we additionally check issues like shampoo and conditioner.

“Lots of the assessments and analysis we conduct right here on the lab are extra novel than others, for instance releasing aromas, and have tried and examined this with the scent of freshly baked bread to see how this impacts client habits in supermarkets.

“We would like companies throughout Northern Eire, and additional afield, to know that we’re eager to work with you and would love to listen to from you in case you’re .”

Producer of conventional Palestinian hummus, Hani Muhtadi, founder and managing director of Baladi Meals in Carrickfergus, defined: “Working with Ulster College, my product has seen a leapfrog in high quality and most significantly, shelf life, which in flip has made my enterprise extra viable and with nice potential for export.

“We now have additionally been capable of finalize a brand new product which I do know will probably be a primary for the Northern Eire market.

“The services at Ulster College Coleraine for market analysis and buyer suggestions have been essential to the success of my enterprise and I wish to thank Dr Amy Burns, Michael Gillies, and the proficient college students at Ulster College for his or her help, particularly throughout these difficult instances.”

Alastair Bell, managing director at Irish Black Butter in Portrush, added: “The Meals and Shopper Testing Suite at Ulster College Coleraine is an outstanding facility and Irish Black Butter has already benefitted from utilizing it.

“It’s a goldmine of client insights and we’re delighted to have such a facility and proficient crew of individuals on our doorstep. We would advocate different companies to contemplate availing of all that is accessible.”

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