Sustainable Food production through quality optimized raw material production and processing technologies for premium quality vegetable products and generated by-products

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    The aim of this European project was to increase the sustainability of the vegetable production chain, from primary production including conservation and processing, throughout the entire food chain. There is specific attention to vegetables such as tomato and cabbage, their derived products and all of the health-promoting components they contain. Vegetables are healthy, but can we further optimize their content in bioactive components by intervening in cultivation, harvesting or conservation? For many vegetables, there are also large volumes of residual streams, mainly consisting of edible parts. Can we make better use of these biomass fractions, recycle them back into the food chain or give them a more valuable valorization than natural fertilizer or raw material for bioenergy?

    Research approach
    In primary vegetable production, SUNNIVA focused on improved cultivation techniques, unveiling the relationship between N fertilization and the presence of bioactive components. In addition, the optimal time of harvest and the optimal storage conditions were studied to result in the desired macro- and micronutrients in the harvested vegetables. In this work package we also focused on administering elicitors to the harvested product and the use of non-destructive measuring equipment to estimate the levels of specific bioactive components. In another work package modeling to analyze and optimize the efficiency of thermal processes in vegetable processing was applied. We set up innovative processes to recycle (parts of) these residual streams back into the food chain. If that was not possible, their use as soil amendment or organic fertilizer was evaluated

    In conclusion, SUNNIVA has undertaken a life-cycle approach by analysing the vegetable food supply loop rather than the chain, in terms of sustainability. In so doing, the various residual raw materials can be more fully exploited: either directly for sustainable production of healthy food (as a refined product or an ingredient), or indirectly by bringing it back into the food chain (as organic fertilizers and soil amendment products) in order to generate renewed primary production with minimal environmental impact.The results generated were of relevance of the Flemish partners (Greenyard Prepared-ILVO and DCM-KUL) involved in the SUNNIVA project and similar actors in the agrifood chain. ILVO characterized the vegetable by-products of Greenyard Prepared and exploited innovative technologies to recycle valuable fractions back into food production (juice, smoothie, purees). In cooperation with DCM and KUL, the vegetable waste streams that could not be used in the food chain were analysed in terms of their suitability as raw material or functional additives for soil improvers or organic fertilizers.
    Effective start/end date1/02/1531/01/18

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