Raw materials and process optimisation
Knowledge about factors that influence the quality of raw materials is required in order to produce food of stable high quality. Our scientists have expertise in understanding raw material variation, efficient production processes, rapid and precise measurement techniques and statistical process control and optimisation.
- Tools for the efficient use of resources
- Solutions for the management of undesired raw material quality
- Advice and training in areas such as knowledge of raw materials, salt reduction and recipe development.
The quality of biological raw materials varies widely with season, climate, species, and growth and storage conditions. Such fluctuations affect yield and the quality of the final product. The production of food can be made not only more sustainable but also more profitable by using knowledge about the quality of raw materials and how it can be measured and utilised optimally.
Influences on quality
Changes in climate can influence the baking properties of wheat proteins, and thus the quality of the bread. Our research on wheat has shown that growing seasons with low temperature and lots of rain give weaker (less elastic) gluten in the wheat, and that differences in quality between locations are larger.
The tenderness of meat is closely correlated with hereditary factors. Our research has shown that meat from the offspring of certain males is considerably tougher than that from others. These results have led to breeding of animals with an improved ability of producing tender meat. Our knowledge about tenderness has enabled the utilisation of parts from the entire animal. The culinary properties of various muscles from cattle, including muscles with large amounts of connective tissue, can be improved by using different tenderising enzymes and methods of preparation.
Understanding raw material quality from cell studies
Our scientists have developed a good cell model system for muscle based on muscle stem cells from tenderloin of beef. This makes it possible to identify the biological mechanisms that are important for meat quality, and how various factors such as genes, environment, feed and processing influences the quality of, for example, beef. Relevant quality criteria are tenderness, juiciness and flavour. This model system provides many new opportunities, and allows us to respond to questions about what happens when the muscle cells receive too much or too little nutrients, what happens to meat quality if one adds vitamins, what role does the connective tissue have in muscle growth and why are some muscle cells converted into fat.
Quality measurements and statistical analysis of large datasets
It is possible to control variation in the quality of raw materials by controlling the processing and storage. Based on their extensive expertise in raw materials, our scientists have developed many methods, techniques and models for the control of processes and products.
Rapid spectroscopic measurement methods determine the chemical and physical properties of both raw materials and products, and can measure quality also during the actual production – on the processing line – in order to record deviations from target early in the production process. In this way, any necessary adjustments of process conditions or recipes can be made immediately.
Expertise in statistics and data modelling is central in the development of rapid measurement methods. Never before has so much data been available, and there is an enormous need to be able to understand relationships between different types of information, available from many datasets. Our scientists develop efficient and user-friendly methods in multivariate statistics and mathematics, which are used to analyse and interpret relationships between different datasets.
Better use of residual raw materials
Increasing the exploitation of raw materials and minimising waste are important for the scientists at Nofima. One of the areas in which we work is to improve sorting technology such that sorting can be more accurate, while another is the development of on- and at-line measurement technology that allows monitoring, optimization and control of hydrolysis and fermentation processes of the production of high-value products. This contributes to higher quality of residual raw materials.