Sustainable Food Processing and Manufacturing

What are the main challenges?

The next decade will require the industry to significantly decrease the use of resources, fossil fuel, water, and any antropogenic materials such as plastic, minimize waste and byproducts. To do so, the entire food ecosystem will need to work together to implement important, transformative changes to the way we process and distribute food.

New technologies may need to be implemented. Processing lines and supply chains revisited. To this to happen, all stakeholders need to be engaged, the ecosystem actors need to evaluate gives and takes, and change needs to be managed using the best science and technology data available. 

This Hub aims to provide a forum to empower all food industry stakeholders engaged in change management to a better, more sustainable manufacturing industry. 

The research

We need excellent research data. This Hub will explore the best-known ways to process, formulate and pack our food to ensure its nutritional quality, satisfy consumer needs, while reducing manufacturing and supply chain carbon footprint.

This Hub includes any raw material (i.e. animal, plant-based, cellular) in a task to deliver the transformative science and innovation needed to lower current resource use,  or upscale sustainably novel technologies. The Hub efforts will include for example, reduction of water processing, electrification, upscaling of side streams, downstream processing of cell-base/synthetic proteins/cellular agriculture, 3D printing technologies, digitalization of supply chains and reduction of plastic and food contact materials, to deliver on the EU Farm to Fork strategy (2030) and EU directives. 

The transdisciplinary nature of the Hub

The food systems transformation in the food industry is already resulting in new disciplines transdisciplinary in nature. Great, promising results of new technologies, or better ways to use established ones for improved sustainability need to be swiftly implemented at industrial scale to maximize impact. 

A holistic approach is then needed. Change management experts, stakeholder analysts, digital and data scientists and technologists are clearly needed side by side with social scientists, environmental scientists  evaluating the impact of the potential changes in our societies.

The Hub researchers will take into consideration the social and human interface of new technologies especially in regards to health, waste reduction and consumer behavior, and will play an important role on evaluating, supporting and influencing policies, legislation and labelling, as the regulatory aspects will be critical to accelerate uptake. 

Examples of research challenges that will be tackled by this Hub are:

Process technologies and supply chains

  • Continue to deliver innovative approaches to support the development of food processes that use less resources( raw material, energy and water ) with minimum waste/ by products and maximum  circularity.
  • Valorization of waste and side streams based on process/ technology innovations and shifting of economic values transforming supply chains.
  • Processing solutions to develop ingredients based on sustainable and emerging raw materials.
  • Generate better understanding of the health  or nutritional aspects of food processed by traditional and new technologies
  • Development of efficient new technologies or adaption of existing ones to creating food structures and functionalities aligned with consumer demands and sustainability principles
  • Better process control and modelling to speed up development of processes, products and to predict and  optimise food quality and shelf life.
  • Evaluation and modelling of new supply chains and processing scenarios.
  • Decrease carbon footprint of exported foods in ambient, refrigerated, frozen supply chains, without compromising quality.

Formulation

  • Continue efforts to replace unsustainable or unhealthy ingredients in a food formulation
  • Better use the intrinsically properties of the raw materials to formulate foods with target texture, taste and self-life
  • Understanding interactions between components in a plant based foods
  • Use of  less refined ingredients in food formulation
  • Speed up development of new plant-based foods, providing information on safety and nutritional properties
  • Modelling of ingredients formulation and impact of labelling
  • Interaction between formulation and processing

Packaging

  • Exploration of reuse mechanisms for current single use product packaging
  • Harmonization of food contact materials for improvement of end-of-life sorting
  • Feasibility and safety of materials recycling for food
  • Novel technological strategies to decrease use of food contact materials while maintaining current shelf life and quality requirement

Key characteristics of the Hub

This Hub bring key researchers from Danish universities, industries and research institutes together breaking institutional boundaries to support collaborative projects to advance how we sustainably process, formulate and pack  foods, and how we can the best results be implemented swiftly into society.


What kind of research areas would complement the Hub research?

Interdisciplinary research linking food science and technology with advancements in fundamental sciences, social sciences and economics while keeping focus on social and industrial relevance.

It is our ambition to provide the industry with the tools to lead by example, with the best research implemented into manufacturing, products, and supply chains.

Academic Coordinators


Milena Corredig

Department of Food Science - Food Technology

Aarhus University

E-mail: mc@food.au.dk


Lilia Ahrné

Department of Food Science

University of Copenhagen

E-mail: Lilia@food.ku.dk


Mohammad Amin Mohammadifar

National Food Institute

Technical University of Denmark

E-mail: moamo@food.dtu.dk

Hub Administrative Coordinators