The Welsh Government is inviting companies and research organisations to apply for a share of up to £1m funding to develop innovative solutions to make the food and drink available to children healthier, while reducing the cost.
By the age of 11, more than 40% of Welsh children are either obese or overweight. Research shows that the vast majority of obese children tend to grow up to become obese adults.
Obesity has a significant impact on the economy. In 2011, obesity alone was estimated to cost the NHS in Wales £73m, with between £1.4m and £1.65m spent each week treating diseases resulting from obesity.
Companies are being invited to submit solutions which focus on reducing levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat as well as increasing the levels of vitamins, minerals and fibre provided in food and drink for children.
Schools have a key role to play in providing children with access to nutritious and healthy food and Welsh Government is also inviting applications which further improve the nutritional value of school means, while reducing the cost to ensure families are able to afford this option.
The competition was launched at Wales’ first major food event, Blas Cymru/Taste Wales. The Welsh Government organised event brought together representatives from across Wales’ food and drink industry with influential buyers from all over the world.
The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said:
“This programme is a call to our food innovators in Wales to help us improve the health of our children by providing good quality and nourishing food, whilst keeping costs down. The Welsh food and drink industry can be proud of its record in innovation, in launching new products and driving up standards, and I’m now appealing to you to use your skills, talents and creativity, to tackle one of the greatest challenges of all – improving the diets of our children today, to enable them to become the healthy young adults of tomorrow.”
Those who submit ideas for funding will come up with innovative solutions such as new processing technologies, reformulation techniques, enabling technologies, new engineering designs and flexible manufacturing processes, to drive down costs.
In addition to improving the diet of children it’s expected that the programme will have wider benefits, including, providing financial savings for schools, boosting the food industry in Wales and further enhancing its reputation for research and innovation.
The funding is provided through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), from the Welsh Government and Innovative UK.