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Southern European countries are the leading producers of tomato, olive and grape products throughout the EU. The cultivation and processing of these key agricultural products results in the generation of millions of tonnes of processing residues, as a by-product. BIOACTIVE-NET seeks to harness the potential of these residues as a rich, renewable source of bioactive compounds in order to further enhance the potential of the EU economy.

Substances like oils, dietary fibre, vitamins and certain plant constituents found in tomato, olive and grape pulp, can find application in the food additives and cosmetic industries, thus opening up a whole new avenue of growth for all the sectors involved. The project is creating an efficient information platform for the dissemination of research results in the fields of extraction and by-product exploitation. The specific know-how generated within the framework of BIOACTIVE-NET is disseminated to stakeholders in the main producing countries (Spain, Italy, France and Greece) via a series of workshops. Particular emphasis is placed on the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the industrial exploitation of the natural ingredients in residues.


The added value to tomato, olive and grape production proposed through BIOACTIVE-NET will result in strengthening the European natural ingredients market, due to the low cost of residue raw materials. This new reality offers a significant competitive advantage to the European market in the face of intense competition from third countries such as the USA. The exploitation of the new commercial advantages offered herein can only be realised through the collaborative efforts of the agricultural, food and cosmetics industries, in combination with the scientific community.

The project follows on from previous EC efforts to create further value for the cultivation of tomatoes, olives and grapes in southern Europe. BIOACTIVE-NET is now in a position to apply this wealth of information and so bridge the gap between research and implementation. The consortium comprises associations of tomato, olive and grape processors who are heavily involved in processing pulp and are seeking to take full advantage of this rich source of active compounds, while gaining significant economic returns in the process.


Components of processing residues include carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and secondary metabolites, a great number of which can find further application in a number of industries once they have been efficiently extracted. The low cost of this resource combined with the potential health benefits of these ingredients re-entering the food chain, makes this a very attractive prospect. One key application is the use of the antioxidants and colorants present in the pulp, as alternatives to the artificial chemical compounds currently used as additives by the food industry.

The bioactive compounds extracted from processing residues display a series of health benefits, and scientific data fully supports their introduction in the food chain. Antioxidants like phenols and lycopene reduce the number of free radicals, preventing cell destruction and skin damage. Natural fibres aid the growth of intestinal flora, protecting against cancer, while tomato and grape lipids can help protect against cardiovascular disease. Overall, the use of these compounds as functional additives in the food and cosmetic industries can result in a health-promoting and environmentally-friendly means of residue utilisation, throughout the agricultural communities of southern Europe.

List of Partners

  • Technologie-Transfer-Zentrum, Food Department (Germany)
  • AINIA, Centro Tecnológico (Spain)
  • CCAE, Confederación de Cooperativas Agrarias de España (Spain)
  • AMITOM, The Mediterranean International Association of the Processing Tomato (France)
  • Vignaioli Piemontesi (Italy)
  • PEZA UNION, Union of Agricultural Cooperatives in Peza (Greece)
  • ANFOVI, L'organisme de formation des Vignerons indépendants (France)
  • Tecnoalimenti (Italy)
Full title:
Assessment and dissemination of strategies for the extraction of bioactive compounds from tomato, olive, and grape processing residues
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Caroline Maehr,
Technologie-Transfer-Zentrum, Food Department
EC Scientific Officer:
Isabelle Van Borm,
EU contribution:
€ 589,354
Specific Support Action

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top