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Innovative Mild Processing Tailored to Ensure Sustainable and High Quality Organic Fruit Products

Introduction

In order to develop novel fortified organic processed products and functional ingredients, aiming to boosting organic processors and the whole organic market by offering to consumers a wider range of novel solutions, the study and optimization of specific gentle processing technologies is still strongly needed and has to be extended to different organic fruits.

MILDSUSFRUIT will address the increased quality and sustainability of organic fruit processing, through the optimization of specific mild technologies that can reduce the environmental impact and preserve quality and nutritional characteristics of the final products. This activity is aimed to meet consumers expectations and favour a healthy life-style, but also to valorise by-products stimulating the development of a circular processing system.

Organic fruits are characterized by high quality and nutritional properties, that are widely appreciated by consumers, but they can present also a high perishability. Processing could contribute to increase their shelf-life reducing waste formation; however traditional technologies can have a negative effect on quality and environmental impact. Therefore, innovative mild technologies need to be developed and carefully tailored for this kind of commodities.

The project involves research groups from Italy, Romania, Poland, Finland, United Kingdom and Turkey.

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Background

The global demand for organic processed fruit characterized by high quality, long shelf-life and improved nutritional value is growing due to an increasing interest in a healthier and more environmentally friendly food production. Consumers expect a superior quality compared to conventionally processed foods, such as less pesticide and additives residues, less nutritional/qualitative reduction due to processing operations and a low environmental impact. Nevertheless, the research on the optimization of processing for organic fruit products is still scarce.

 

Main project activities

The project aims to improve the competitiveness of the organic sector, increasing the level of quality, sustainability and consumer confidence of organic fruit (apple, citrus and berries) products and valorising by-products and side streams.

The activity will follow a “processing-guided” strategy, aimed to answer to stakeholders needs in order to have an important impact on the EU organic sector. The main activities are:

  • - define and optimize mild technologies tailored to each organic raw material, in order to increase the stability and functionality of a wide range of organic processed fruit products, including minimally processed, semi-dried and dried ones.
  • - define and optimize gentle and more sustainable technologies for the extraction and stabilization of functional ingredients, developing specific protocols aimed to reduce waste and valorise by-products.
  • - characterize and reduce the environmental impact of the production of organic processed fruit products and functional ingredients in order to increase the overall sustainability.
  • - evaluate the consumer preferences and acceptance in relation to the innovative processed organic fruit products aimed at developing and suggesting improved communication strategies.
  • - disseminate the obtained results and elaborate concrete recommendations (development of a Code of Practice) to stakeholders such as farmers, food producers and packers, distributors, retailers and consumers associations.

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Expected results

A fundamental output of the project will be the development of a Code of Practice for European organic fruit processing industries. An active engagement with multi-actors and a dissemination plan will ensure that the outputs of the project will be comprehensive and accessible, meeting the needs of the end-users. These finding will be used for the creation of a virtuous production system able to maximise product quality, minimising waste and environmental impact, enhancing consumer confidence on organic pro-cessed fruit products."

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Example of organic fortified apple snacks (Juan Manuel Castagnini)

 

Keywords

Gentle processing, minimally processed products, semi-dried fruit, dried fruit, emerging technologies, consumer-driven approach, organic fruit-products, valorisation of by-products

 

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Project members at the kick-off meeting (Screen capture, Urszula Tylewicz)

Project consortium

Coordinated by:

  • Prof. Pietro Rocculi - University of Bologna – Italy (Coordinator)
  • Dr. Urszula Tylewicz - University of Bologna – Italy (Co-Coordinator)

Partners:

  • Prof. Mona Elena Popa - Universitatea de Stiinte Agronomice si Medicina Veterinara din Bucuresti, (Romania)
  • Prof. Malgorzata Nowacka - Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Institute of Food Sciences, (Poland)
  • Dr. Tuulikki Seppanen-Laakso - VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, (Finland)
  • Dr. Daniele Asioli - University of Reading, (United Kingdom)
  • Mrs. Nurcan A. Güzelsoy - Central Research Institute of Food and Feed Control, (Turkey)
  • Prof. Fahrettin Gogus - Gaziantep University, (Turkey)

 

More information

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mildsusfruit

Twitter: @mildsusfruit

 

Presentations

Kick-off project meeting - February 2021