Agri-tech and food manufacturing automation

As Schools of the College of Science, NCFM and the Schools of Computer Science and Engineering regularly collaborate in research with Agri-Tech the cementing theme and this is facilitated through the Agri-food Technology Research Group. FRPERC also have a long history of research in the food automation, robotics and cutting technical areas. We work with a number of key industrial partners and consortia in the areas of robotics, vision systems, laser and photonics technologies, machine intelligence and other areas of food automation with a particular focus on applications to food packaging and seal integrity and machine learning to support quality assessment and control.

Food refrigeration and the cold chain

Together with FRPERC, we have extensive expertise on all aspects of the food cold chain, including chilling, freezing, thawing, tempering, refrigerated storage, refrigerated transport, refrigerated retail display, and domestic handling and refrigerated storage. Our research includes advances in chilling and freezing technologies and improving the energy efficiency and sustainability of the food cold chain. Our activity also covers the specification, design, development and optimisation of food refrigeration processes for industrial partners.

Heat processing

We work with a number of key industrial partners in the areas of cooking, pasteurisation, surface pasteurisation, and sterilisation. We have expertise of a range of conventional and dielectric heat processes, both industrial and domestic, including a current research project into Steam Infusion food processing. Our activity also covers the specification, design, development and optimisation of heat processing systems for industrial partners. This also covers the development and verification of both conventional and microwave reheating instructions for ready meal manufacturers.

Food safety, product quality and shelf life enhancement

Underpinning the essential pillar of food safety in the food supply chain, a range of projects delivered with partners supports consumer protection and legal compliance helping to ensure the achievement of that fine balance between consumer protection and innovation. Microbiological validation and the development of new sensing approaches for microbiological contamination and shelf life assessment in fresh produce and the meat sectors are key areas of research. Our activity also extends into agricultural and horticulture crops with projects relating to soil, compost, water and waste management also being undertaken with our Riseholme based Agricultural team members.

Product innovation

The drivers of the need for product innovation are numerous and include the needs to reduce waste, ensure the health consumers, promote export and offset competition. At NCFM our expertise in sensory science supports discrete projects in this discipline as well as many other projects where sensory science and consumer preference are a fundamental element. Labelling, nutrition and product formulation are also features of our work where with the latter, a partnership with the new School of Chemistry is supporting research in starch and colloidal chemistry associated with food formulation.


  • Bakkavor
  • OAL Group Ltd
  • Insignia Technologies
  • Lincolnshire County Council
  • Marel
  • Marks and Spencer
  • Monaghan Mushroom Ltd
  • Robo Scientific Ltd
  • Produce World Group
  • RU Robots Ltd
  • Proseal UK Ltd
  • Tunnel Tech North Ltd
  • Leatherhead Food Research
  • Manchester University and partners in PicknPack.

National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Holbeach Campus, Park Road, Holbeach, Spalding, PE12 7PT
tel: + 44 (0)1406 493000
fax: + 44 (0)1406 493030