Agri-food

The Norfolk & Suffolk region leads the UK in the agricultural technology sector. Businesses, research and support extends from plant biotechnology and food and drink production to agricultural machinery, inputs and expertise.

Our scientists are working at the leading edge of new discoveries and technologies, in areas such as precision farming, animal health, crop disease control and prevention, and food in human health. They are exploiting the latest knowledge in gene editing, AI, data science, robotics and marine science to bringing these into commercial applications. 

Some of the largest food and drink providers have chosen Norfolk and Suffolk for production facilities across a wide range of products including sugar, sauces, flavourings, snacks, peas, meats, seafood, petfood, malt, beer and cider, as well as ingredients, packaging and refrigeration. Through the Port of Felixstowe, we are well placed for efficient international supply chains. 

Agriculture is changing fast and our companies are helping. Our region is home to innovators in farm machinery, harvesting, drones, animal health, fertilisers, seed and crop management. 

The sector is supported by world-class research institutions on the Norwich Research Park, including the John Innes Centre, Earlham Institute, The Sainsbury Laboratory and Quadram Institute. 

Specialist expertise is spread all over the region. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) in Lowestoft, Suffolk is the UK’s most diverse centre for applied marine and freshwater science and research, providing innovative solutions for the aquatic environment, biodiversity and food security.

Animal health firms are clustered in and around Newmarket, Suffolk while several large pharmaceutical companies are in Haverhill, taking advantage of links to the Cambridge life sciences cluster.



UEA building Norfolk and Suffolk Unlimited

Muntons

Suffolk company Muntons is a leading global player in the supply of malts, malt extracts, flour and flakes to many well-known names in the food and drinks industry, and exports about half of its production. It also produces an impressive range of beer, wine and cider-making kits which are also sold globally. The progressive company has invested heavily in product development and innovation and the results have been incredible. Such as ‘malti-choc’, an eco-friendly way to replace 20% cocoa in a chocolate muffin, while making it even tastier. Liquid malt, when added, can also make spaghetti bolognese meatier and cheese biscuits cheesier, Muntons discovered.Practical sustainability is at the heart of everything Muntons does. Liquid waste from its ingredients business at its Stowmarket headquarters is treated at a £5.4 million anaerobic digestion plant. The process will produce a fertiliser substitute for spreading on local farms, cutting out the 3,000 tanker movements a year currently required to take sludge from the site – saving around 340 tonnes in CO2 emissions from the lorries. In addition, treating waste streams from malt extract production at the plant produces up to 25% of the firm’s base load electricity.  Andy Janes, Corporate Marketing Manager, said: “Our malt is made entirely from locally grown cereals such as barley and wheat bringing benefits to a vast range of products from chocolate confectionery to breakfast cereals, beer and malt whisky. Seeing continued growing demand for our products, all made from natural ingredients, is very satisfying, setting the tone for a strong future.”

Sector support 

The sector is brought together by Agri-Tech East, an independent, member-led organisation that facilitates knowledge transfer in agriculture and horticulture, and involves innovative farmers, food producers and processors, scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile our Agri-food Tech Sector Skills Plan aims to provide more than 7,000 new workers by 2024. In Suffolk the Orwell Food Enterprise Zone and the Stowmarket Enterprise Park offer advantageous locations for companies in the sector, as does the Easton Food Enterprise Zone in Norfolk.


Other sectors

Together, Norfolk & Suffolk has internationally recognised specialisations in these three sectors. Our region is home to major global companies, leading edge R&D, expert talent pools and supportive networks.

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