Raw material quality
Greater predictability of food quality increases profitability. Scientists at Nofima have extensive knowledge into the properties of raw materials and how they can vary as a consequence of changes in growth and farming conditions, processing and storage.
- knowledge about raw material properties and processing that can contribute to more reliable and improved product quality
- analyses of wheat and meat quality
- analysis tools within molecular biology to study proteins and connective tissue
- in vitro cell models to study muscle growth and the tenderisation process
- process halls for baked products and meat that can be used during product development, and that make experiments possible under industry-relevant conditions
- commissioned research and research projects in collaboration with the food industry
- courses and knowledge transfer to food producers.
One of the greatest challenges facing Norwegian food producers is the unpredictability of raw material qualities. Quality variation of the raw materials used in industrial production will often lead to variation in the quality of the final products. It is important to understand what is significant for raw material quality, and how we can influence these factors, if we are to achieve a reliable and correct quality of food products. Scientists and specialists at Nofima have extensive knowledge and long experience in these areas, and can in this way contribute to the creation of value in the industry, through consultancy, knowledge transfer and project collaboration.
Predictable raw material quality gives increased profitability
The relationships between raw material quality, processing, and food product quality are complex. Differences in the quality of meat and grain present particularly large challenges. We place the emphasis on using raw materials, ingredients and processes in the best possible manner, and in this way increasing the profitability of companies. Our scientists and specialists have extensive knowledge about raw materials, their properties and the changes that the raw materials undergo during production and storage. Analysis of proteins and connective tissue is particularly important in order to investigate and understand raw material quality in wheat and meat.
In the field of meat quality, the scientists at Nofima are concentrating on the eating quality and technological quality of beef, pork, lamb, reindeer and chicken. Technological quality describes how suitable the meat is for further processing, and includes such properties as fat content, water binding and pH, while eating quality describes how the consumers experience the quality of various meat products, and includes such properties as tenderness, juiciness, flavour and colour.
Many factors influence meat quality, such as the genetics, sex and feeding of the animals, how they are treated before and during slaughter, and storage of the meat. These factors can also influence how meat quality, and in particular the tenderness and water binding, changes during storage as a result of the innate tenderisation process that is occurring.
Areas that are given special attention are:
- variations in meat quality between different muscles and cuts of meat
- the natural process of tenderisation as a consequence of enzyme activity and protein degradation
- the composition and degradation of connective tissue
- structural changes that are particularly important for tenderness and water binding
Nofima has scientists with excellent expertise in meat quality, and the facilities required for many types of analysis and pilot-scale production. We have long experience in the processing of meat. The topics with which we work include marinating meat to improve its eating quality, production of dried and cured meat, optimisation of recipes and processes for minced meat products, and reduction of salt and fat in meat products.
The research and accumulation of expertise at Nofima into the baking quality of wheat have been directed towards the protein content and the gluten quality in Norwegian wheat. Much of this research has been carried out in collaboration with the value chain for wheat in collaborative projects with the industry. Research in recent years has been particularly focused on variations in gluten quality in varieties that are cultured in Norway, and on variations in gluten quality caused by various environmental factors. This variation is particularly challenging for the value chain.
The research comprises also analysis of gluten proteins and gluten quality using several methods, from chemical characterisation of proteins to rheological testing of dough and the testing of baked quality following baking tests. Central topics include: How gluten proteins are produced and polymerised through the grain-filling phase, and how temperature and other environmental factors influence these processes.
Knowledge about these processes is an important key to understanding why and how variation in gluten quality arises during cultivation, and for the development of effective measures that can contribute towards a high and stable gluten quality. Every autumn, Nofima analyses a large number of wheat samples in order to characterise the wheat produced that year, and to provide information about this to the value chain.
Nofima has scientists with excellent expertise in wheat quality, and the facilities required for many types of analysis and test baking. We have made major contributions to helping the fraction of Norwegian wheat rise from essentially zero during the 1970s to its value of 80% in 2014.