What do scotch eggs and fine dining have in common? Not very much on the face of it.
But scotch eggs and fine dining (not to mention fish & chips and kebabs) have all been a part of food industry R&D claims in one way or another.
We’ve rounded up the experiences of past clients to show five surprising ways food businesses have benefited from R&D tax relief. They may even inspire your own work, or show how innovation you’ve already carried out could qualify too.
1) Removing allergens
Many diners have food intolerances, and being able to cater to them safely can open up new revenue streams. A food production company making kebab meat discovered that it had gaps when it came to catering to potential customers with allergies and intolerances.
It committed itself to producing kebab meat products without the ingredients that can cause adverse reactions. The work involved tracing ingredients to find out if they contained or came into contact with ingredients they needed to remove, and then sussing out what could replace them. Those replacements all had an impact on flavour, consistency, shelf life and pricing — so it took time and resources to get it right.
In the end, the client received £169,000 in tax relief — and made their products available to a whole new customer base.
2) Mass production
A scotch egg comes with an expectation of a runny yolk, so how could they possibly be mass produced? That was the question our client, a manufacturer of artisan style scotch eggs for delis, pubs and farm shops, wanted to answer.
They invested considerable time and money to find a way of cooking raw eggs to provide consistent results, while also exploring the best way to refrigerate them to safeguard food safety.
They ended up creating technology so unique that there is nothing comparable currently in the marketplace.
3) Developing new machinery
New food innovations cannot always be crafted to perfection in existing machinery, something a bread manufacturer explored when they wanted to improve gluten-free baking.
Our client wanted to develop new gluten-free products and improve existing ones, but existing gluten-based machinery was not adequate for those recipes.
It required extensive trial and error testing to create machinery that could produce market-leading products which replicate the texture and taste of bread and cakes but without the wheat.
4) Achieving consistency
We all know good fish and chips when we eat it, and one family-run chippy in the process of expanding the business wanted to ensure consistency and the same high standards over every single one of its premises.
Recipes and the methods of cooking in the catering industry are often highly guarded trade secrets. The business invested in developing its own cooking methods, recipes and machinery to ensure every site delivered the quality of food it was known for.
One of the key issues was maintaining the quality of the batter across all sites — and they utilised expert contractors and industry specialists to help them test all variations of ingredients, water levels and temperatures. By finding the optimum combination, they have ensured consistency across all their sites.
5) New menus
Fine dining restaurants often push the boundaries of culinary excellence to create spectacular dishes bespoke to their brand.
One Michelin-starred client used modified technology to create new dishes and combinations of flavours, providing them with a greater understanding of ingredients, cooking processes and timing.
It was a classic example of R&D being carried out to answer uncertainties which cannot be solved with information in the public domain.