Around 40 university students and staff from the Netherlands and Canada were at Macphie in Aberdeenshire yesterday to find out about the region’s food industry.
Their visit to the award-winning food ingredient manufacturer was part of a week-long orientation and study tour of Scotland.
The students are on a four-year, International Food Business (IFB) programme run jointly by the faculty of agriculture at Dalhousie University in Truro, Nova Scotia, and Aeres University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.
Graduates are awarded two degrees, one from Dalhousie focused on agriculture in international food business and another from Aeres University in business administration.
Macphie was an ideal industry case study – the family-owned company employs more than 300 people across two sites; its headquarters on the 2,000-acre Glenbervie Estate and premises in Tannochside in North Lanarkshire. Its products are used by bakers, chefs and food manufacturers around the world.
IFB co-ordinator Heather-Anne Grant said: “The primary objective of the visit was to expose our students to a vital component of the food value chain that many of them don’t normally think of – the ingredients supplier.
“While we’re in Scotland, we are introducing students to the tasks in their first-term assignment where they are required to map out the value chain for the cereals sector in select countries.
“Each year we change the commodity of focus, and we thought that operations at Macphie complemented this year’s cereals theme very nicely.”
The four-year dual degree programme emphasises its international focus with a week-long tour, early in the first semester, where students from both universities get to know one another while exploring the local food industry.
At Macphie, the students heard from senior research and development manager Paul McKnight about innovations in barley technology. Barley is the UK’s second largest cereal crop and a key focus in one of Macphie’s current research projects. Mr McKnight said: “It is fascinating to meet the next generation of food scientists and agronomists and be able to give them some insight into the differences that research is making in food technology.
“For example, this single project into barley research and development we talked about has the potential to create 3,500 extra jobs and add £750million in economic value.
“Most of the students were visiting Scotland for the first time, and their enthusiasm and curiosity showed the value of promoting our country as a hub of innovation and excellence in food science.”
The visitors also sampled some of the products which earned Macphie its manufacturer of the year title in the Baking Industry Awards earlier this month.