Food Business and Development - Doctoral Theses

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    Evaluation of the manufacture of cheese from micellar casein concentrate or using novel coagulants
    (University College Cork, 2022-09-23) Li, Bozhao; McSweeney, Paul L. H.; Kelly, Alan; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Food Institutional Research Measure
    Novel materials and coagulants for cheese manufacture are currently of interest since the development of membrane filtration technology and gene recombination technology may offer opportunities for innovation in cheese manufacture. A novel dairy material – micellar casein concentrate (MCC) – is the co-product of whey protein recovery. As the main protein source in cheese is casein, MCC has the potential to be a starting material for cheese manufacture. The objective of the work presented in the first part of this thesis was to evaluate the feasibility of the manufacture of Cheddar and Quarg cheeses from micellar casein concentrate. In addition, camel chymosin has been reported to cause less proteolysis as a coagulant for cheese manufacture compared to bovine chymosin. The suitability of manufacture of Cheddar cheese using a novel camel chymosin with structural changes was also investigated. The rennet and acid coagulation properties of micellar casein concentrate were evaluated. MCC had a higher casein in total protein content compared to low heat skim milk powder (LHSMP), and shorter rennet coagulation time and higher gel strength were found in MCC compared to that of LHSMP. A gelation pH value greater than 5 was found in MCC. MCC produced by cold microfiltration (MF) formed acid-induced gels with high strength at pH 4.6, while the gel strength of acid-induced gels formed by warm MF MCC reached the highest at a pH value of around 5 and decreased below this value due to rearrangements of the casein network. The suitability of the manufacture of Cheddar cheese from MCC was subsequently investigated; standard control milk, skim milk with cream, reconstituted MCC with cream and reconstituted LHSMP with cream were used for comparison. The use of MCC led to increased proteolysis compared to the other treatments, linked to higher plasmin and chymosin activities in the cheese. Increased springiness, cohesiveness and meltability were found in Cheddar cheese manufactured from MCC. For the manufacture of Quarg cheese, lower moisture and higher protein contents were found in cheese made from MCC compared to that made from LHSMP. Cheese made from hot MF MCC showed the highest hardness compared to that made from LHSMP or cold MF MCC. Higher glycomacropeptide (GMP) content was found in cheese whey made from MCC. The suitability of manufacture of Cheddar cheese using a modified fermentation-produced camel chymosin (mCC) was investigated; fermentation-produced bovine chymosin (BC) and camel chymosin (CC) were used for comparison. The use of mCC led to reduced proteolysis compared with BC or CC, and higher instrumental and sensory hardness and lower meltability were found in cheeses made using CC or mCC compared to BC. Descriptive sensory analysis indicated less sulphur and barny flavour in cheese made with CC and mCC, while cheese made using mCC showed the lowest brothy flavour and bitter taste. Finally, the proteolytic specificity of the three generations of chymosin on NaCN at pH 5.2 with 5% NaCl and 6.5 and in proteolysis of Cheddar cheese made using these coagulants were investigated. Many peptides were identified through liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) in both NaCN digests and Cheddar cheese made using each chymosin. Other than the majority of peptides produced by BC and CC reported in the literature, some new peptides were identified in this study as well. The proteolytic activity of mCC was relatively lower than that of BC and CC. Overall, the results presented in this thesis will support the innovation and application of new materials for the manufacture of cheese and other dairy products and add to the understanding of the properties of three generations of chymosin when used in cheese manufacture.
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    Developing indicators of the social sustainability of farming using the Teagasc National Farm Survey
    (University College Cork, 2022) Brennan, Mary; Hennessy, Thia; Dillon, Emma; Teagasc
    The emergence of agricultural and food sustainability as a major societal objective has resulted in a considerable shift in the focus and design of EU policy relating to agriculture, food, and rural development. As such, the dimensions of sustainability (economic, environmental and social) are reflected in the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023-2027. The monitoring and evaluation of policy is a key element of the new CAP and consequently, there exists a need for harmonised multidimensional indicators to gauge progress towards specific sustainability targets. Moreover, the transition of the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) to the Farm Sustainability Data Network (FSDN) reflects the commitment of the European Commission to enhancing sustainable farming practices, and this necessitates an expansion of existing farm level indicators to improve policy monitoring and evaluation, particularly with regard to social and environmental metrics. In response to this policy need, this thesis aims to contribute to the ongoing development of sustainability metrics at the farm level, cognisant of evolving policy themes and drivers impacting Irish and European agriculture, and focuses on social indicators of sustainability. Indicators to assess the economic, and more recently, environmental sustainability of agricultural systems have dominated much of the sustainability discourse to date, with little on the assessment of social sustainability. The broad nature of social sustainability does not lend itself readily to measurement by conventional, quantitative means. An extensive review of the literature suggests that agricultural social sustainability can be considered as either ‘internal’ (relating to farmer wellbeing) and ‘external’ (at societal level)’, encompassing animal welfare and community wellbeing. Expanding on this ‘internal’ and ‘external’ classification, and following consultation with stakeholders, this thesis categorises social sustainability into dimensions reflecting farmer, animal and community wellbeing, and identifies relevant indicators for each dimension. Farmer wellbeing incorporates elements relating to quality of life (i.e. working hours, stress etc.), animal wellbeing consolidates herd level welfare data, while community wellbeing examines indicators measuring multifunctionality, service accessibility and heritage and culture (including generational renewal). Statistical analysis of data collected through a special survey, in addition to supporting socio-demographic data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) relayed key information on the social sustainability of Irish farms. From a farmer wellbeing perspective, this research finds that dairy farmers are more likely to experience farm related stress relative to operators of cattle, sheep or tillage systems. In addition to a stress assessment, this thesis assessed farmer wellbeing levels through the development of a composite index, the Farmer Sustainability Index (FSI), comprising indicators which reflect farm continuity, community and social connections, and farmer comfort. The FSI indicates that farmers working in the cattle sector, of older age profile, and residing in more peripheral regions experience relatively lower levels of wellbeing. Indicators assessing community wellbeing reveal regional variation, with communities in the Border and West performing less well in terms of wellbeing compared to other regions. In terms of farm continuity, a higher proportion of dairy farmers have identified a successor. Moreover, in terms of animal wellbeing, representative data from the NFS finds that welfare on dairy farms has remained relatively stable during an expansionary phase following EU milk quota abolition in 2015. These findings indicate that farm level social sustainability varies considerably by farm system and subsequently region. Variations in the FSI scores and those of its components reveal the extent to which farm heterogeneity influences wellbeing levels. Additionally, the underlying farm economic and socio-demographic attributes are influential. This serves to highlight difficulties in applying a common policy approach in the pursuit of improved social sustainability across farm systems with differing wellbeing needs. As the FADN expands its remit to better encapsulate sustainability through the FSDN, it is imperative that additional social sustainability indicators are developed. This thesis finds that, with modifications, the FADN framework retains the ability to effectively assess and collect social sustainability metrics for European farms. Indeed the Teagasc National Farm Survey has been at the forefront in this regard, devising a bank of social sustainability indicators and providing a roadmap for data collection and analysis. This research contributes to the discourse on agricultural social sustainability measurement, through the development of a range of indicators reflective of farmer, animal and community wellbeing dimensions. Recommendations for future data collection and research are also provided.
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    An assessment of the impact of land structure on the economic performance of dairy farming in Ireland
    (University College Cork, 2021-11-11) Bradfield, Tracy; Hennessy, Thia; Butler, Robert; Dillon, Emma; Teagasc
    The European Union (EU) milk quota was abolished in 2015 leading to an increased demand for land for dairy farming in Ireland. Between 2014 and 2019, raw milk production increased by 42 percent in Ireland (Bradfield et al., 2021a). However, the land market in the Republic of Ireland is restricted by low mobility. The Republic of Ireland’s agricultural land market experiences very low levels of sales with less than 1 percent of agricultural land sold each year (CSO, 2020a). This is attributed to a strong desire of people in Ireland to keep land in the family name. Ireland also has a low level of land rental. To increase land rental on secure leases, the Irish government increased incentives in 2015 for landowners to rent out their land on long term leases. Using econometric techniques applied to farm-level Teagasc National Farm Survey data, which is part of the Farm Accountancy Data Network, this research provides contributions to the study of agricultural land markets that focus on three main research questions. These include an assessment of the factors that influence the decision to rent in agricultural land and the determinants of profit among renting dairy farms in Ireland, the effect of land fragmentation on dairy farm technical inefficiency, and the impact of land lease duration on dairy farm investment. Research findings show that dairy farms are using the rental market to improve profitability. Farm characteristics such as a small size, a high stocking rate, the presence of a successor and high levels of hired labour increase the likelihood of entering a rental agreement. Renting in land and a less fragmented farm structure reduce dairy farm technical inefficiency. Dairy farms can reduce their technical inefficiency by either renting or purchasing land parcels that are adjoining their current land resources. The results also indicate that farms with a high portion of rented land, which is rented on long-term leases, invest more in their herd and capital. This suggests that long-term land rental is a feasible means to create certainty over investments when land purchases are not possible. In conclusion, these findings highlight the benefits of an active land market to individual farmers and the overall dairy sector, which lends support to policy measures to improve the rental market and thus land mobility. Although the number of agricultural land rental agreements has risen since the removal of the EU milk quota and the increase in tax incentives for long-term land leases, Ireland continues to have the lowest level of land rental in the EU, at 19 percent, compared to an average of 54 percent (European Commission, 2018). This research recommends a review of the structure of current tax incentives for long-term leases because the existing thresholds do not maximise incentives for farmers to rent out their land. Other contributions of this research include a greater understanding of markets with an inelastic supply curve, the role long-term leases can play in improving tenure security, the importance of an extensive use of land fragmentation indicators when studying farms’ structures, and the requirement for market intervention to improve land mobility. Topics for further research are also outlined.
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    Rural social enterprise: an exploration of hybridity and engagement with place
    (University College Cork, 2021-02-27) van Twuijver, Mara Willemijn; O'Shaughnessy, Mary; Hennessey, Thia; Horizon 2020
    Rural social enterprises throughout Europe are found to fulfil needs of rural communities that are not met otherwise (van Twuijver et al., 2020). Previous research shows that rural social enterprises are strongly embedded within their local communities, while at the same time connecting these to external actors and network (Richter, 2019). Furthermore, previous research shows that rural social enterprises operate from a wide and diverse resource base (O’Shaughnessy and O’Hara, 2016b). In this study, this resource base is understood as a hybrid resource base, given that resources from the private, public and third sector are combined (Doherty, Haugh and Lyon, 2014). In recent decades there is growing interest from policy, practice and academia in the role that rural social enterprises can play in realizing rural development (TFSSE, 2014; Richter et al., 2020). Against this backdrop, this study set out to deepen our understanding of the way in which rural social enterprises operate within a rural context. Hitherto, empirical research into this has been scarce, leaving gaps in our understanding of how and through which mechanisms rural social enterprises are able to realize meaningful contributions to the places and communities they serve. In order to investigate this, two research questions have been formulated. The first question is focused on investigating which capabilities rural social enterprises develop in order to manage their hybrid resource base. The second research question is focused on how rural social enterprises engage with the rural context in which they operate. A conceptual framework has been constructed that utilizes insights from Resource Orchestration Theory (ROT) and the human geographic concept of place. In combining the two theoretical perspectives, a framework emerged in which place is understood as a unique configuration of (potential) resources that rural social enterprises engage with as part of their hybrid resource portfolio. This framework has been utilized to conduct an in-depth qualitative case analysis of two rural social enterprises in Ireland. Data has been collected through semi-structured interviews, participant observations and archival document analysis. The data has been analysed using abductive analysis, anchored in a realist ontology. The findings of this study outline five capabilities developed by rural social enterprises that support the orchestration of a hybrid resource portfolio, namely institutional connectivity, community connectivity, market connectivity, managing paradoxes and organisational adaptability, and describe the practices that underly each of these capabilities. Furthermore, the findings outline six forms of engagement with place, namely harnessing locational aspects for marketable activities; fostering a collective sense of place; (re)invigorating social connections; enhancing institutional relations; building on local human capital; and improving local material settings. The findings evidence that rural social enterprises do not only utilize economic means to fulfil their organisational objectives but show the importance of integrating these means with resources deriving from institutional and community sources. In describing five capabilities utilized to manage the hybrid resource portfolio, this study provides insight into the organisational processes and routines that enable the mobilization and integration of different resources in a rural setting. Moreover, the described capabilities support engagement with place because they provide the rural social enterprises with different approaches to access and mobilize elements of place as organisational resources. By utilizing elements of place as organisational resources, the rural social enterprises are found to alter/enhance these elements, and hence are not only influenced by, but also influence the rural context in which they operate. It is concluded that there is a mutually reinforcing link between the ability to manage a hybrid resource portfolio and engagement with place. Additionally, it is concluded that productively hybridizing resources originating from the private, public and third sector supports the ability of rural social enterprises to function in a rural context. Practically, the findings of this study show that a better understanding of the complex character of rural social enterprises is needed to fully realize their potential as a link in the chain of rural development.
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    Deconstructing cardboard man: antagonists, allies and advocates in the quest for women’s economic empowerment in Bangladesh
    (University College Cork, 2021-01-07) Ondekova, Marcela; McCarthy, Olive; Power, Carol
    This study explores Muslim masculinities in Bangladesh and their positioning towards women’s economic empowerment (WEE), with a particular focus on employment in low-income communities. The research is framed by a specific context of increasing women’s labour participation – a shared objective of the current Government of Bangladesh and the local and international development community. The study introduces a masculinity continuum containing three masculinity markers – Antagonists, Allies and Advocates – to facilitate the exploration and understanding of differences in men’s views, attitudes and practices with respect to WEE. Mixed methods, including focus groups, peer-to-peer survey, life-history narrations, gender analysis, interviews, Delphi method and observation, were used to analyse the linkages between WEE and masculinities in the selected context. The study found that WEE was a multidimensional phenomenon in low-income communities. However, Antagonist and Ally men overlooked psychological and social benefits of economic inclusion for women. In addition, the indigenous perceptions of WEE, particularly by men, mainly focused on the fulfilment of practical needs and overlooked structural inequalities that perpetuate women’s inequalities. Low-income women largely desired progressive masculinities embodied by Advocate men that could facilitate WEE. While resisting changes undermining men’s patriarchal control over women, Antagonist and Ally men supported women’s access to decent employment under certain conditions. In addition, although Ally men, who appeared to represent the majority of men, were reluctant to give up their patriarchal privilege in the privacy of their household, they supported women’s increased roles in public domains. Advocate men demonstrated some residual patriarchal attitudes and practices, but these were marginal in their masculinities. Moreover, working on women’s equality with men was a source of optimism and joy for Advocates. Lack of women’s safety was amongst the main obstacles highlighted to restrict women’s mobility and access to employment outside their communities, although in the discourse by Antagonist and Ally men, women’s increased mobility and new opportunities were strongly correlated with their fear of a working independent woman. This fueled the attempts to retraditionalise women, who had accessed new roles in society. Antagonist and, to some extent, Ally men demonstrated a high prevalence of gender stereotypes about women’s and men’s roles based on biological essentialism and conservative cultural/Islamic norms. This included primary breadwinner as a persistent mainstream masculinity norm. On the other hand, Advocates, and to some extent Ally men, were engaged in more emotionally rewarding relationships with their wives and children, than men with Antagonist masculinities. Husbands and fathers with Advocate masculinities demonstrated a higher involvement in household and care work, rewarded by their spouses. The Islamic faith was not found to be a conclusive factor in driving or resisting patriarchal masculinities, although less religious men appeared more progressive with respect to WEE. Disability was linked with heightened emasculation caused by the erosion of the male primary breadwinner role, but this appeared to be the case only when other salient factors were at play. An emasculated disabled husband was a factor in a higher risk of violence against low-income women working outside their communities. Whereas Antagonists appeared to constitute a substantial part of society, the dominance of Ally masculinities creates a unique opportunity to engage with men on transformative WEE. The research contributes to the formulation of a men’s empowerment framework, which can assist development actors in increasing men’s support to women’s equal economic rights in Bangladesh and potentially elsewhere. The current Government policies, which are largely supportive of women’s economic inclusion, contribute to an enabling environment for such efforts. Two specific approaches can support mobilisation of Antagonist and Ally men: marital togetherness and the concept of peaceful household (hooks, 1984, 1998; Ahmed, 2008, 2014) and the egalitarian gender relations within Islam (Kabasacal Arat and Hasan, 2017; Musawah, 2018; Nazneen, 2018), supported by partnerships with those religious authorities that share common interests with development actors, such as fighting violence against women and girls. Ultimately, the study challenges the narrative of oppressive Muslim men, who resist normalisation of Bangladeshi women in the economy. It validates the existence of diversity of masculinities and their embodiments in studied practice, while including men in women’s struggle for equality and social progress. The study concludes that non-static and nuanced understanding of masculinities can encourage useful empowerment strategies in development practice that can result in the improvement of lives of many women and men.