It's been three decades that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Food Processing Center has aided entrepreneurs in developing and market food manufacturing businesses.
To mark it 30 years of accomplishments, the Food Processing Center will conduct and open house and tours June 9, from 1-5 p.m.
The open house is planned in the Food Industry Complex on UNL's East Campus. Tours of the center's pilot plants will be offered, as will interactive displays on sensory testing, marketing, food safety and more.
There also is free ice cream. The FPC's Dairy Store is one of East Campus visitors' favorite stops, and the samples will remind open house participants why.
Nebraska was one of the first states to develop a food processing center, and its center served as an example for other states to do the same, says Rolando Flores, the center's director. Early successes included assistance to a group of Panhandle farmers growing and processing carrots and onions as alternatives to sugarbeets and work with the Japanese licensee of the Nebraska Sucrose Ester patents, which led to FDA approval of the product for use in the United States, he says.
The center has a successful Food Entrepreneur Assistance Program used by business people all over the United States to help develop and expand food manufacturing businesses, according to Flores. Its pilot plants enable clients to perform production tests and develop new products using pilot-scale equipment. Areas of expertise in the plants include: extrusion, dairy production and research, high-pressure processing, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, dehydration and more.
Flores says the celebration of its history is important, but he's even more enthusiastic about the future. "We have to be more responsive, more efficient with fewer resources and more effectiveness."
The center will continue to hone technologies that can be used to ensure more plentiful and safer food and break new ground in areas like functional foods, which are foods that deliver specific health benefits.
"We need to be responsive in new areas of technology, nutrition and health," he says. "We will always give support to mom and pop organizations because it's a very important segment, but the future is the strengthening and development of our applied research."