9 Dec 2013
The first event put on jointly by the SCI Food Group, Acumentia Consulting Ltd, and Vitalsix Ltd, took place on 15 October 2013 at Reading University's Science and Technology Centre. The event attracted over 30 guests who gathered to hear three leading experts talk about their research and business in the context of The Responsibility Deal on Nutrition.
Prof Julie Lovegrove from the University of Reading started the evening off with a very interesting presentation on the concept of an optimum diet for health and the challenges of delivering and consuming such a diet. She discussed dietary fat intake and its relationship with cardiovascular disease, particularly with the challenges associated with reducing our saturated fat intake. Julie's presentation highlighted importance of the total diet, rather than individual nutrients in promoting health through the lifespan.
The second speaker was Dr Julian Cooper, Head of Food Science at AB Sugar. Julian spoke about the value of sugar in foods and the potential problems of misunderstanding its replacement in individual foods. Sugar is valuable in foods for a wide range of characteristics not simply sweetness; it is unique in its glass formation in foods such as cereals and confectionery and provides valuable preservation by reducing the water activity. It is often replaced with the intension of improving the nutritional value of products only to be replaced by high caloric or higher Glycaemic Index materials which in fact only achieve a marketing position, not a real nutritional benefit for consumers.
Prof Ray Winger, managing director of Cuisine for Me, a company which specialises in speciality foods for renal conditions, talked about the pitfalls of setting up a business to produce tasty foods for those unable to tolerate any sodium or potassium in their diet. Ray explained that he has a lifelong renal condition so understood the need for such products first hand. He explained the steps he took, to explore the market in terms of products, demand and routes into it; including taking the four-day Vitalsix 'Henley Accelerator' course which he described as a four-day MBA! Ray provided the audience with valuable first-hand experience on the pitfalls of starting a business from scratch in the food industry.
There was a lively Q&A session and the evening rounded off with refreshments and a chance for networking.