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Published: 24 July 2017  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Agriculture & foodFood safety & health risks
Innovation
Research policyHorizon 2020
SMEs
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Germany  |  Netherlands  |  Spain
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Promoting pioneering food-processing technology

By overcoming the bottlenecks and barriers hindering market uptake of innovative food-processing technologies, the EU-funded i3-Food project aims to reduce food waste and improve the quality and shelf life of products.

Picture of orange juice in glass and fresh fruits with leaves on wooden background

© Sea Wave - fotolia.com

In 2011, 10.7 billion litres of fruit juice were consumed in the EU. In 2009, the ice-cream market in 14 major European countries generated €8.9 billion. Processed foods like these are clearly very important to European consumers as well as the economy.

Developing more efficient and effective food-processing technology has therefore been a research priority in recent years. Studies seek to extend the shelf life of products – both fresh and long-life – while improving quality, reducing the use of chemical preservatives, and saving energy.

This has resulted in pioneering food-processing technology, but there has been little market uptake by EU industry. The majority of European food-processing companies are SMEs, which may be unable to make substantial investments in new technology, especially in the absence of guidelines on food safety and other requirements.

The EU-funded i3-Food project is seeking to foster market update for three particularly promising novel food processing technologies that it has identified:

  • Pulsed electric field preservation (PEF-P) perforates cell membranes within food and kills microbes without affecting product quality or appearance. This could extend the shelf life of fresh orange juice, for example, from 7 to 21 days. It could also increase cost-benefit by 10-15% compared to conventional processing.
  • High pressure thermal sterilisation (HPTS) can be applied to longer-life products, such as ready meals, to produce higher-quality packed foods with better colour, taste and texture.
  • The third technology, low shear (LS) extrusion of cold food products, has been applied by i3-Food to ice cream. This ‘deep-temperature’ extrusion process provides greater control over fat crystallisation in spreadable, viscous products so that they look, smell and taste better.

To encourage rapid and easy market uptake, phase 1 will involve analysing the innovation environment, and identifying opportunities. Phase 2 will see road-mapping for market penetration per technology. This approach will provide maximal synergies between the three technologies addressed. Application opportunities beyond the known use cases will also be explored, and a scientific strategy for overcoming the market barriers to rapid and maximum market uptake will be defined.

The results, and in particular the cost-benefit potential, will be disseminated to end-users, partners and multipliers through workshops and demonstration days.

Project details

  • Project acronym: i3-Food
  • Participants: Germany (Coordinator), Spain, Netherlands
  • Project N°: 635478
  • Total costs: € 2 314 375
  • EU contribution: € 2 159 275
  • Duration: March 2015 to February 2018

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  Burkina Faso
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