Driving innovative product development
Drywite Ltd is a small family-owned business that has been manufacturing vegetable washes and preservatives for the catering and vegetable industries since 1933.
The company engaged the expert help of the University of Birmingham’s Chemical Engineering department to develop an organic non-sulphite preservative to increase the shelf life of its peeled potatoes. This would enable the company to further strengthen its UK and export markets by mitigating growing resistance amongst customers to the use of sulphites on prepared vegetables.
In addition, most fresh fruits and vegetables have a pronounced tendency to discolour to a greyish brown after periods of storage, producing an appearance that is unacceptable to consumers. Therefore, another focus of academic work carried out was on reducing enzymatic browning, one of the primary reactions responsible for such discolouration, in addition to increasing the shelf life of the potatoes.
The KTP Associate recruited to work on the project, Birmingham PhD alumni Dr Matthew Cave, had not worked in industry before, so the project enabled him to gain a solid grounding of the food industry. Matthew, throughout the KTP and beyond, brought his academic experience to the company, embedding Quality Control procedures and IS0 Certification within the business. He was subsequently employed by the company to continue as Technical Manager and has since moved into the Operations side. As a direct consequence, the company’s approach to R&D has changed – a more controlled, systematic approach to New Product Development and verification is now in place. A further benefit of the KTP project was that it enabled the company to gain confidence, manifested through investment in capital equipment and training of staff.
Managing Director, Drywite Ltd
“We are grateful...to use the expertise of Dr Tony Hasting and the resources of the University of Birmingham for a project that our company may not otherwise have been able to afford. We were very happy with the report that Dr Hasting produced and would like to continue to develop links with universities.”