According to the University of Reading, consumers doing their weekly shop will benefit from new research to help the food system create healthier food, communicate more effectively and educate them about how food is produced.

The University of Reading is working across 37 new research, communication, business creation and education projects in 2020 thanks to €4.7m (approx. £4m) of funding from EIT Food, a European initiative to revolutionise the food system. The funding will help the university to benefit consumers, farmers and those working in the food industry by supporting collaboration with other universities, research institutes and businesses across Europe to address challenges in the food system including environmental matters.

Research being carried out by University of Reading and partners across Europe include innovative work such as SeaCH4NGE, which is looking to harness seaweed as feed supplements to reduce methane production by cattle. Other projects include the validation of organic milk by developing methods to distinguish organic from conventional milk, enhancing consumer trust of the dairy supply chain and the integration of different data sources to help famers make informed decisions about their crop management practices.

Consumers will benefit from online courses and projects including how to demystify regulations of food labelling and why the gut microbiome could provide numerous benefits for human health as well as helping people understand the ‘truth behind the headlines’ of nutrition and health news stories.

In addition, a range of projects will help the food industry better communicate their essential work to the public, including looking at public attitudes towards animal protein products which will incorporate plant-based ingredients to improve the nutrient profile, and a computer game to help farmers gain skills in precision farming in order to reduce pesticide and herbicide waste.

Professor Ian Givens, director of the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health at the University of Reading said: “There has never been a more important time to invest in research into the food system. I am delighted that we’ve received more than £4m of funding from EIT Food in 2020 to continue to carry out world leading research with partners across Europe.

“At the University of Reading, we’ve been researching agriculture, food and health for almost 100 years, and we are uniquely placed to look at this in the context of the whole food chain – from soil health, to the crops grown in the fields to working with famers and industry and examining the impact of food we eat on our health and well-being.”