Minister for Defence Marise Payne today announced the government will invest $7.2 million in an innovative new food processing technology which will be used to produce high-quality combat rations.
CAPTION: Dawn Jackson, a contractor with Defence Science and Technology Group Scottsdale, prepares combat-ration items for testing. Photo by David McCleneghan
Defence will establish a Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilisation (MATS) research and development plant within the Defence Food and Nutrition Centre in Scottsdale, Tasmania, along with a production facility in Launceston.
“The MATS process is an innovative new food preparation method that uses state-of-the-art rapid sterilisation techniques to create shelf-stable, ready-to-eat meals required by Defence personnel,” Minister Payne said.
“Microwave-sterilised meals have the potential to improve the production and quality of readymade foods across both Defence rations and the wider commercial market, both nationally and within the Asia-Pacific region.’’
The investment follows a feasibility study undertaken by the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) in cooperation with Australian industry and the Centre for Food Innovation.
The Centre for Food Innovation is a collaboration between DSTG, the University of Tasmania and CSIRO.
“Tasmania is renowned for its clean and green agriculture industry and the new technology has the potential to create an innovative new food production sector, with benefits for local producers and consumers.”
Member for Bass Andrew Nikolic said he had championed for increased investment in DSTG’s Scottsdale facility for the past five years.
“This new technology, which I have advocated for over a number of years, will improve the quality of rations available for our troops, enable the provision of food in support of humanitarian contingencies, and has commercialisation potential as well,’’ Mr Nikolic said.
Minister Payne said building a new partnership between Defence and industry is a key focus of the recently released Defence White Paper and Defence Industry Policy Statement.
“Defence investment in next-generation technologies, such as MATS, will have spill-over effects into other areas of the economy and help create local jobs.”