Britain gets through over a million tonnes of cheese a year,
including over 300,000 tonnes of hard cheese in processed
Like many companies in the food industry, major producers
Arla have been looking for ways to feed our love of
cheese while also offering healthier alternatives. Both
companies came to Sheffield Hallam's food engineering experts
Greencore, a major supplier of prepared food to UK retailers,
uses large quantities of cheese in baked products like quiche
and lasagne. And while it had made progress reducing salt
and fat for its convenience ranges, it had found that doing
the same for products containing baked cheese was much more
Meanwhile, Arla – one of the UK’s largest producers of cheese
for direct retail – was looking to develop technology that
would produce a healthy cheese alternative capable of competing
with existing cheese products.
Together we formed a consortium that included Arla, Greencore,
Sheffield Hallam and Imperial College London, with Greencore
as lead partner. We successfully applied to
Innovate UK for £579K of funding.
Our project was funded to explore the manufacture of a healthier
cheese product for the baked quiches market, and, in doing
so, develop a technology applicable to the wider cheese ingredients
and cheese retail markets.
Our solution uses micro-encapsulation technology to reduce
the salt and fat content of products containing baked cheese
by 10% and 20% respectively. This new product could be used
as an ingredient in healthy processed convenience foods or
as a standalone retail cheese product.
If successful, there is potential for this new healthier cheese
to contribute to removing around six tonnes of salt and 96
tonnes of fat consumption in the UK every year. We plan to
share our findings and technology to the UK cheese manufacturing
The project marks the latest development in Sheffield Hallam's
relationship with Greencore. Since the launch of the
National Centre of Excellence in Food Engineering in
July 2014, Greencore has been involved in ongoing discussions
to identify opportunities for collaboration, including Knowledge
Transfer Partnerships and student placements.
Greencore technical director Helen Sisson has been involved
from the outset in our Masters in Food Engineering course,
and in the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering.
We’ve also worked with Greencore to identify ways in which
the micro-encapsulation research could be applied to challenges
in compliance with salt and fat reduction targets, while
maintaining product quality and consumer experience.