School of Biosciences

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Alice Jones

Senior Food Innovation Advisor, Faculty of Science



Alice is Senior Food Innovation Advisor at The Food Innovation Centre, a knowledge exchange team that delivers scientific knowledge, short project working and consultancy support to food and drink manufacturers using the facilities and knowledge base of the University of Nottingham. The team is also a gateway for wider food and drink business interactions with the university (for example: to engage in research collaborations, for student projects and placements etc). The team had funding to work specifically with local SME's from Oct 2016-June 2023, but now is open to work with all sizes of business, on a commercial basis.

Alice is a Food Scientist, qualified to Master's degree level with twelve years' experience working in R&D, product and process development and technical improvement roles within the food industry, the bulk of which have been SME's, before joining the Food Innovation Centre in 2016. Previously she has been involved in knowledge transfer roles (including being a Knowledge Transfer Partnership associate with the University of Lincoln and Belvoir Fruit Farms Ltd) and is passionate about the translation and application of food science and technology principles into business. Her time working in entrepreneurial, and sometimes quirky, 'characterful' SME businesses, has been extremely enriching. High quality, great tasting, local and authentic foods have therefore featured heavily in her career and this has made her a champion for the authenticity and integrity of food products. She is also keenly interested in collaborative working between food producers and processors.

The bulk of her experience lies in the development and processing of soft drinks from fruits, flowers, herbs and spices, the pressing of fruit to produce premium fruit juices (berries and single variety apple juices) and the processing of plant-based/botanical extracts for the premium sectors, where quality and distinctiveness are essential. In such sectors, she has gained extensive knowledge about the link between raw fruit quality, fruit variety, orchard practices, processing conditions and the resulting yield and organoleptic properties of a finished product.

Alice's specialist area of research and continued interest is the use and processing of elderflowers as a food ingredient, including the agricultural side (varieties, cultivation), capturing, extracting and preserving the flavour quality of elderflower and the effects of processing conditions on the finished product quality. Over the years, Alice has travelled extensively in Europe working collaboratively with elderflower traders and suppliers to develop raw material supply in this area. She also completed a Nuffield Farming Trust Scholarship project in this subject during 2019-2020. As a result she has built extensive links and contacts within this niche industry around the world and runs a small research stream at UoN looking at agricultural aspects of growing elder commercially.

An interest in sensory and flavour science, which started with her undergraduate research project, carried out at The University of Nottingham investigating the effect of starch thickened sauce viscosity on flavour release and perceived flavour perception, has been a theme throughout her career and she has experience of setting up and carrying out sensory testing to inform research and development, product improvement, quality control and marketing functions within SMEs.

Alice also has had experience of Product Development andTechnical Management in the food industry, gaining first hand and practical experience of implementing and maintaining effective food safety and quality management systems to BRC and organic standards, developing and leading the HACCP team and championing food safety and quality cultural excellence (a vital ingredient in all food manufacturing operations ensuring such systems are effective and self sustaining).

Expertise Summary

Applied sensory evaluation for food & drink manufacturing businesses (especially application in SMEs).

Product and process development for SMEs.

Soft drinks, fruit juice and cider production, processing and development.

Elderflower & berry cultivation, post harvest handling, processing and relationships between raw material and processing parameters and quality and organoleptic attributes.

Raw materials- fruit and plant-based extracts and infusions.

Ingredient-led NPD.

Apple and berry juice production and processing.

Fruit juice authenticity.

Technical management - HACCP, Food Safety and Quality Management, CIP systems.

Raw material supplier approval.

Organic food production.

Low input a tree crop cultivation/growing systems.

Research Summary

DEFRA-funded review paper looking at pest and disease in Sambucus and strategies to prevent pest and disease as the UK develops a commercial elder cultivation industry.

Participant in research project to investigate drought tolerance in Sambucus.

Past Research

Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust project 'Cultivating elders for the UK Processing Industries', see here for further information and open access report:

Future Research

I am particularly interested to engage in further research and research collaborations relating to:

  • elderflowers, elderberries, especially relating to the chemical, nutritional and sensory properties of elderflowers and elderberries and their sustainable cultivation.
  • future foods from 'wild' and hedgerow species.

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LE12 5RD, UK

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