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Food Tech Brainport in Helmond is a centre of expertise for food technology, product and market innovation, specializing in mild separation, mild preservation and the optimization of the value of food waste streams. Food Tech Brainport is one of the members of Samen Tegen Verspilling Taskforce – along with Wageningen University, Albert Heijn, Rabobank and other institutions. Samen Tegen Verspilling is a governmental initiative aimed at the reduction of the food waste by fifty per cent by the year 2030.

As a member of the Taskforce, Food Tech Brainport specializes in the development and introduction of the processes and technologies for optimization of food waste streams. As Food Tech Brainport business developer Ivo Ploegsma says, in a number of cases food waste streams prevention is not available and the alternatives are the reduction of food waste after the change of food processing technology or food waste streams valorisation. “Food waste normally becomes animal feed, or it is used for energy production or simply dumped. But food waste streams can be made valuable”, says Ivo Ploegsma. “Food Tech Brainport has been running a food waste valorisation project with van Rijsingen Ingredients that supplies, among other products, baby carrots to the retail. The final product is small pieces of carrots in plastic bags, but raw material for it are big carrots of irregular shapes. They are cut up during the production leaving vast amounts of food waste (more than 10.000 tons in a season). In this case, neither prevention or reduction of food waste is possible, so Food Tech Brainport assisted this company with the valorisation of this production’s food waste streams.”

“Extending the Shelf Life while Maintaining the Quality of the Food”

With new technologies, it became possible to turn the carrot off-cuts into a value-added product – carrot juice. The pulp left after juice squeezing is a source of fibres – a value-added product that can be used further in the food industry – for example, for making bread. However, even when the fibres are taken out, there is still a waste stream left. “Now Food Tech Brainport is looking into the technology that would enable the extraction of carotene from the after-fibres waste stream. Carotene could possibly be used as a colouring agent or food supplement inside or outside of food industry,” tells us Ivo Ploegsma.

Food Tech Brainport runs two projects that accelerate the Taskforce’s work towards its goals: a European project Food From Food – lead by Brainport Development – focused on food waste reduction and their upgrade to valuable products and BioBOost project – a collaboration of numerous Brabant organizations coordinated by Food Tech Brainport. “These projects are now accelerated by the Taskforce goals and at the same time they enable the Taskforce to get off to a flying start with the activities that have been already undertaken within these projects,” says Ivo Ploegsma.

Food Tech Brainport and its partners have about 2000 m2 of facilities with technologies for the shelf life extension and resource utilization of the raw materials. The major companies working here are Bodec with expertise in mild separation technologies and Pascal Processing specialising in mild preservation. One of the technologies available in Food Tech Brainport – High Pressure Processing (HPP) – is capable of significantly extending the shelf life of the product. Long shelf life means the reduction of the food waste, which consists not only of production process leftovers but also of the products that come to retail and expire due to their short shelf life. “If we extend the shelf life while maintaining the product’s quality, it results in a huge reduction of the food waste. Many SMEs and larger companies use our Helmond facilities to treat their products with high pressure and prolong their shelf life”, says Ivo Ploegsma. “Being a member of the Taskforce, Food Tech Brainport plans to raise the national and international awareness of SMEs about the facilities and food preservation technologies that are available here, in the Brainport region.”