According to Bord Bia, the agri-food and drink sector accounts for almost 11% of Ireland’s exports and 8.4% of total employment. As a food exporting nation, maximising productivity and quality are paramount. Quality control within the food and agricultural sectors globally and nationally impacts directly upon the health of Ireland’s citizens. Significant commercial opportunities in milk and dairy quality assurance are evident and there are proven market needs for screening technologies in on-site milk testing applications (microbial load, contaminants). This theme also contributes to one of the key actions in Innovation 2020 “The sustainable development of the agri-food sector and the optimisation of its contribution to national economic development and the natural environment is a key national goal” while the Building Ireland’s Smart Economy framework document builds on the strengths in the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Sectors.
Current methods of microbial detection are often time-consuming, labour intensive culture plate techniques. The sensing technologies developed by MiCRA can be tailored to allow producers to rapidly monitor ingredients before, during and after processing; allowing inefficiencies and issues affecting quality to be identified and rectified quickly. As an example, the DPTC project described above has huge buy-in from a wide range of Irish dairy companies.