Raw materials and process optimisation
Full utilization and efficient processing of raw materials are vital to maintain a sustainable and innovative food industry. We have extensive expertise in raw materials and processing and use this knowledge to develop technologies for future food production.
- Tools and advice for optimal resource utilization
- Tools that are part of the “Food Industry 4.0”
- Advice and training in the field of commodity knowledge and recipe development
- A pilot hall for meat processing and on- and at-line spectroscopic measurements
- Developing tools for connecting data from the entire value chain, and connecting rapid spectroscopic techniques with statistical methods
- Knowledge about how the eating quality of animal raw materials can be improved through optimum processing
- Developing various cell model systems and in vitro digestive systems for assessment of bioactivity
- Insights on how wheat can retain its high quality and ensure a high proportion of Norwegian wheat in flour blends even under challenging and changing weather conditions
- Developing rapid spectroscopic methods to gain a better understanding of various raw materials and products, for continuous measurements online in processes and for monitoring, controlling and understanding industrial food processing and biochemical processes
Our expertise is based on many years of research on the relationship between the quality of raw material and the quality of the end product.
We have also developed expertise in combining rapid spectroscopic techniques with statistical methods.
We use this expertise to extract information from complex data, which has provided us with a solid basis for developing tools for connecting data across the entire value chain. This is important for our future food industry.
Optimal Resource Utilization
Grains and meats are all protein-rich raw materials, and their quality is therefore closely linked to the properties of the proteins in connection with other nutritional and structural elements.
We are researching how proteins and peptides affect quality, texture and flavour of these raw materials.
We know that climate has an impact on the quality of wheat proteins (i.e. gluten proteins), and thereby also the quality of the bread. We are researching how growth conditions such as temperature and precipitation affect the composition and stability of the gluten proteins, and thus also the flours’ baking qualities.
Similarly, animal raw materials also vary in quality, such as tenderness between different animals and cuts from individual animals. Only a small portion of the carcasses is utilized for premium products such as steaks, and 70 % of the meat from beef carcasses in Norway are sold as minced meat.
With our expertise in processing of animal raw materials, using techniques such as salting, drying and marinating with enzymes, we know how the eating quality can be improved through optimal processing.
We investigate which bioactive components can be found in animal raw materials. Bioactivity is tested by using various cell model systems and in vitro digestive systems. The goal is to increase the utilization of animal raw materials – including the parts that cannot be used in food.
We also want to facilitate the production of healthier meat products, and contribute to finding new ways of using animal raw materials.
Increased utilization of raw materials is important, as less wastage is associated with both economic and environmental gains. An important task for our researchers is to develop new bioprocesses to transform residual raw materials into high-quality products.
For example, we are working with hydrolysis of protein-rich materials and fermentation of residual biomass to create new products. The primary focus is on proteins, peptides and other low-molecular water-soluble components.
We examine the entire value chain from raw materials to the finished product, with particular emphasis on the chemical properties, functionality, bioactivity and bioavailability of proteins and peptides.
This provides us with knowledge about what these proteins and peptides can be used for, making it possible to find new uses and create new products, including raw materials we currently don’t use in foods – such as eggshells.
Cellular production of animal proteins – in vitro meat
In vitro production of muscle cells can be a new and environmentally friendly way of producing meat and animal proteins.
We are researching the possibility of large-scale cultivation of muscle cells from cattle through the use of bioreactors, and how to utilize by-products from the food industry in the process.
At the same time, we wish to survey the functional and nutritional properties of in vitro proteins in food products.
On-line monitoring and controlling processes control
Rapid spectroscopic methods can capture both chemical and physical properties of raw materials and finished products through electromagnetic radiation. A major advantage of these methods is that they are non-destructive, i.e. they can measure chemical components in more or less intact specimens.
The techniques can be used to gain a better understanding of the raw materials and products, or to perform continuous measurements online in various processes.
We are developing new and rapid non-destructive measurement techniques that can be used to monitor, control and understand industrial food processing and biochemical processes.
These techniques, often based on near-infrared (NIR), Raman, fluorescence and FT-ITR spectroscopy, will become important tools for the food industry to be able to produce food in a cost-efficient manner with optimal utilization of raw materials, stable end quality, and minimal food wastage.
Our expertise in statistics and data modelling is also central to the development of new measurement methods. The spectroscopic techniques can measure thousands of wavelengths, and it is necessary to use advanced data analysis to interpret and apply these measurements.
Data analysis and modelling
Our access to data has never been greater. Both the industry and research scientists have a great need for analysing, visualizing and extracting relevant information from large amounts of data.
That is why it is vital to find reliable and user-friendly methods for identifying underlying patterns and relationships in data in most of the current topics we research.
Our researchers are working to develop methods linked to statistics, multivariate data analysis and machine learning. These methods are used in a number of ways, such as for sensory/organoleptic and consumer research, spectroscopy and multivariate calibration, biostatistics, bacterial communities and process modelling.
Food Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 combines physical technology, such as robots and sensors, with digital technology, such as machine learning and analysis of Big Data. The idea is that all machines and instruments shall communicate with each other and work together via a digital network.
In the food industry, the objective of such a digital structure will be to make the most of raw materials, reduce waste, increase profitability and meet consumer needs.
Our researchers are developing tools that form part of the “Food Industry 4.0” based on online measurements of food quality, as well as connecting and analysing production data, and extensive knowledge about the raw materials at hand.
An increasing number of food companies use these methods for monitoring and controlling the quality during the production process, so that necessary adjustments of recipes and process conditions can be implemented directly in the production line.
We are also working with concepts for improved and more accurate sorting of raw materials for different products or quality categories.