Highlights from the ‘Development of sustainable food products’ seminar


The fourth seminar of the EFFoST Seminar Series ‘Sustainable Food Systems: Connecting Expertise in Academia and Industry’ featured discussions on the development of sustainable food products and how novel solutions can contribute to meet changing consumer demands.

The seminar “Development of sustainable food products” took place Friday, September 24, at 1 pm (CET), with 228 unique participants. We were happy to welcome renowned experts from academia and industry, who shared their insights. 

Anja Leissner, Founder and Head of R&D at Stockeld Dreamery (Stockholm, Sweden) introduced a new concept to produce cheese from plants. Cheese is as a very traditional food and consumed by millions of people. Despite the current shift towards plant-based diets and the development of plant-based food products, plant-based cheese is still a “white space”, which is due to the complex nutritional and functional properties of cheese being related to the properties of milk proteins and milk fat. According to Anja, existing approaches either suffer from low nutritional quality or a limited scalability. An approach to overcome these issues is precision fermentation. For producing cheese, dairy proteins can be expressed in plant cells which are cultivated in a controlled environment. However, the concept of Stockeld Dreamery is different. The company ferments plant proteins in order to achieve properties similar to milk proteins. Using this technique, first products could be launched.

Martijn Noort, Project Manager and Scientist at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research (Wageningen, The Netherlands) focused on the question whether 3D printing provides an opportunity to improve the sustainability of food. 3D printing of foods offers flexibility to produce foods with innovative structures locally and on-demand. Also, it provides opportunities for consumer interactions and to personalize food production. In his talk, Martijn provided several examples of application of 3D printing. By modifying the shape or orientation of printed products, their texture can be modulated. This already led to the implementation of 3D printing in industrial environments to produce pasta or sweets. Another example for 3D printing is the utilization of side-streams of the food industry, which have limited technofunctionality due to their composition. Besides, their availability is often seasonal, local and thus, variable. Via 3D printing, vegetable food residues could be valorized as printed base for snack products with attractive texture. The last example for 3D printed foods consists of meat substitutes. Recent work indicates that fibrous structures with different length scales as being found in meat can be created using plant proteins.

Antonio J. Melendez Martinez, Full Professor at the University of Seville (Seville, Spain) gave an interesting talk regarding the importance of carotenoids in Agro-Food and health. Carotenoids are very versatile compounds both in nature and in foods, they play an important role for food security and they are precursors of very important compounds such us vitamin A, phytohormones, antioxidants. They represent functional ingredients both for the food and the cosmetic industry. Antonio highlighted that, although sustainable practices to obtain carotenoid-rich products are being implemented, more efforts are needed towards the acceptability, upscaling of technologies and regulatory framework.

Following, Diana Pinto, a PhD student from REQUIMTE/LAQV, University of Porto, shared part of her research with us, talking about the valorization of bio-waste from Salicornia ramorissima as a potential industrial ingredient. Salicornia species are halophitic plants and, therefore,  salt-tolerant and able to survive under extreme climatic conditions (high-salinity and drought). Thanks to these peculiarities, Selicornia plants could be considered a good source of food especially in those areas where there is a scarcity of fresh-water and marginal lands. Currently used as a fresh vegetable or as salt substitute, Salicornia ramorissima shows a wide range of biological activities, such as antioxidant, antimicrobial, antinflammatory. Diana pointed out that, however plants from Salicornia species could be exploited as functional ingredients, and in cosmetics, and as nutraceuticals, they are annual plants that produce valuable vegetables only once per year. The rest of leaves produced are considered by-products, and Diana’s research focused on finding new ways for their valorization. Optimizing the extraction methods, S. ramorissima biowaste could represent a good source of functional ingredient.

Nicolas Declercq, founder of Leopold7 Brewery (Brussels, Belgium), presented a creative and sustainable way to innovate the craft brewery sector. In fact, from the traditional production of beer from bread, he showed their sustainable approach in reducing the energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The CO2 produced during the fermentation, for instance, is collected and used to grow algae. Currently collaborating with KU Leuven to find new solutions for the exploitation of the algae as possible beer ingredient. 

The next seminar of the 'Sustainable Food Systems: Connecting Expertise in Academia and Industry'  series will address the topic 'Sustainability assessment of the food chain: how to do it scientifically and practically?'.

Sustainability assessment of the food chain: how to do it scientifically and practically?
When: Friday 22 October 2021 from 13:00 - 15:00 CET
Where: Online
Cost: free of charge
Register here