OPTIEBERRY

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 in high added value (none)-food applications to process or market the non-premium class fruit of raspberry, strawberry, and blackberry (Figure 1). 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 a broad set of functional molecules such as polyphenols. This provides multiple opportunities for the envisaged bio-based product development.

The project starts with a comprehensive overview of the unique functional molecules in the abovementioned berry species and the impact of processing and storage on their content. 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 storage. The results will be used to estimate the potential for further development.

Simultaneously, a market study will be set up to evaluate the potential of 3 selected product pilots based on berries, that is innovative packages of unprocessed berries, (fermented: to reduce sugar) beverages/purees and gelled products. In addition, co-creation sessions will be organised to identify 2 new cases for business modeling. The 3 pilot cases include the optimisation of the innovative processing steps and product recipes to maintain the functional molecules present in berries. As a result, 3 product prototypes will be developed and 2 business canvasses will be set up.

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 a 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 will be executed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers & advisors and surrounded by the expertise and knowledge of the berry supplier Wilderhof.


Photo: Colourbox

Coordinator

Coordinator Mrs Nathalie Bernaert,
ILVO, Belgium (Flanders: VLAIO)
Email: nathalie.bernaert@ilvo.vlaanderen.be


Project partners

  • ILVO, Belgium (Flanders: VLAIO)
  • Wilderhof, Belgium (Flanders: VLAIO)
  • pcfruit vzw, Belgium (Flanders: VLAIO)
  • The James Hutton Institute, United Kingdom
  • Geisenheim University, Department of Beverage Research, Chair of Analysis & Technology of Plant-based Foods, Germany
  • Boerenbondvereniging voor Innovatieve Projecten vzw (Innovatiesteunpunt), Belgium (Flanders: VLAIO)