Exploration of alternative raw materials for application in the food sector

Project Details


Main research question/goal

Food producers are tending to use increasingly diverse plant-based ingredients and raw materials for reasons of taste, nutritional value, functionality, and also because of lifestyle, sustainability or health image. Growers, ingredient producers and processors who want to respond to this trend (and sometimes niche market) need clear, scientifically verified, technical information. CROPEXPLORE is therefore aiming for a database with already available and new information on at least 150 known and lesser known crops/raw materials. For each crop and its derived raw material, technical data sheets will be provided, including nutritional composition (macro and micro level), agro-economic properties (cultivation characteristics, ecological properties, availability), functional properties (taste, behaviour in water, enzymatic activity) and application possibilities.

Research approach

We search for reliable technical information and structure it so it is ready for use by potential primary producers and by food processors. The areas presented in literature are 1) Nutritional: health-related components, nutritional variance, allergenicity, potential for inclusion in everyday products and snacks; 2) Authenticity and sustainability: To what extent are plants grown locally or far away, industrially or rather produced on a small scale? Is there any re-commodification of raw materials? What is the environmental impact of food production, and is it reduced or not; 3) Taste and functionality: In which recipes, for which taste profiles can the plants or raw materials be used? To what extent can one work with them under a clean and clear label? 


The knowledge matrix describing the potential of different (known and less known) crops and their derived raw materials has proven to be very useful. At a glance, users get an overview of nutritional qualities, technological functionalities, influences on the final product and taste, sustainability characteristics and economic feasibility. By combining existing information, combined with new analyses in case of missing information, farmers and food companies thus get an interesting overall picture of the various aspects of a range of interesting crops and the raw materials derived from them.

Effective start/end date1/02/1830/04/22