OPTIBERRY targets innovative processing and biorefinery/extraction concepts to food prototypes and (non)-food ingredients for sustainable use of berry biomass available, especially the non-premium fruit. The project will result high added value (non)-food applications to process or market the non-premium class fruit of raspberry, strawberry and blackberry. This valorisation will result in a more resilient berry supply chain, creating a secure and long-lasting sustainable relationship between the berry grower and its potential customers.
Berries were chosen for their economic importance and local clustered availability. In Europe almost 2 million tons of berries are grown. However, more than 15% of these berries do not enter the fresh market because of quality reasons. Part of these non-premium fruit finds a destination in the industry but are sold at dumping prices.
Economically relevant functionalities and bio-activities have been assigned to berry biomass. Most of the berry species are rich in broad set of functional molecules such as polyphenols. This provides multiple opportunities for the envisaged bio-based product development.
The project started with a comprehensive overview of the unique functional molecules in the abovementioned berry species. This overview helped to select the functional molecules for further analyses in the next WPs. Next a systematic and detailed high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) analysis of these target compounds will be performed to assess the content of well-defined functional molecules in the (non-premium) berries (3 different species, 3 varieties, 3 EU locations, 2 seasons), and the impact of harvest time. The samples of year 1 are already collectected and freeze-dried. They will be analysed together with the samples of year 2.
Simultaneously, a market study is set up to evaluate the potential of 2 selected product pilots based on berries, that is apero beverages and gelled products for sport nutrition. In addition, cocreation sessions are organised to identify 2 new cases for business modelling.
Different pilot processing cases are already started from the beginning of the project. Juices were tested from the 3 different berry species and produced with two types of pressing technologies: the spiral filters press and the hydraulic filter press. The impact of processing was evaluated on functional molecules and fysico chemical properties. In the other cases, nectar and berry wine was tested on different parameters. In addition, blackberry confisery test samples were produced with a Flemish company.
The project will also focus on biorefining of the non-premium fruit to food and non-food ingredients (cosmetics), where extraction of the fruit will be performed for both food and non-food applications as colourant, or antioxidant. As a result the potential of the extracted products will be evaluated as food and cosmetic ingredient.
The functionality-guided process and product development will result in innovative concepts useful for a wide range of actors in the future circular economy, including food & drink applications and cosmetics applications.
The project is executed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers & advisors, and surrounded by the expertise and knowledge of the berry supplier Wilderhof.
Coordinator Mrs Nathalie Bernaert,
ILVO, Belgium (Flanders: VLAIO)