The UK's Cereals Industry Forum is to receive a £1.4 million government grant over the next three years in an effort to improve efficiency and competitiveness in the grain chain. Funded jointly by the Department of Trade and Industry and Defra, the initiative will focus on providing value for money and identifying where potential cost savings can be made.
"This Government grant will contribute to achieving the goals of our Sustainable Farming and Food Strategy," said food and farming minister Lord Whitty. "It will help our cereals industry to look critically at issues of efficiency and competitiveness."
Eight supply chains will be identified across the range of cereal products in order to establish methods of cost efficiency. Expert analysis will be provided by the Cardiff Business School. The three-year project will commence this autumn, subject to final endorsement under state aid rules.
"The recent agreement on the reform of the common agricultural policy highlights the fact that the UK cereal sector must be internationally competitive if it is to survive," said Cereals Industry Forum chairman Chris Ritson.
"In today's global markets, all businesses need to be at least as efficient as their overseas competitors. The Cereals Industry Forum is designed to help everyone along the British cereals chain in this mission - from those that grow the crops to those that sell the final product."
The award for the Cereals Industry Forum is one of several grants to boost the UK's food sector. Other successful grant requests came from English Farming and Food Partnerships and the Food Chain Centre.
"These are good quality, practical projects that can deliver real benefits to producers," said Lord Whitty. "We want to help farmers become more competitive, and I hope that the industry will play its part in taking these projects forward.
"Benchmarking and exchange of best practice need the active and enthusiastic support of farmers and growers. Participation in these exercises can bring real benefits - delivering not only cost savings but also improved quality and grading, reduced waste, and better adherence to specification."