Reducing losses to combat food waste is a highly topical subject, well highlighted at Fruit Logistica, whether on exhibitor stands or in the debates and organized conferences.
“It will soon be possible to monitor and guarantee food quality all along the chain, much more quickly and efficiently than before”, said Dr Susann Vierbauch, of the Fraunhofer Institut, during a conference on the subject at the Future Lab on April 5.
Shield program: example of spectroscopy to extrapolate the remaining life of a product
Lhe spectroscopy, in particular by infrared and hyperspectral, makes it possible to analyze the composition and the homogeneity of the color, which gives, thanks to models and data, prognoses of the lifespan of a food product (content and distribution of fat in fish, evolution of meat, etc.). This is therefore very useful information for the retailer who can react in order to accelerate or modify his sales.
Dr Susann Vierbauch highlighted the Shield program which groups 9 institutes and 10 industrial partners (Fraunhofer, NFT, FAU Universities of Munich and Nuremberg, a dairy in Bavaria, machine builder, etc.) and whose “the objective is to group data to establish models and therefore probabilities of lifespan. We are only at the very beginning of the project. We use the data available, we have no wholesale or distributor partners. »
Transforming to valorize end-of-life fruits and vegetables
Then, we can act on the so-called unsaleable products because they are not aesthetic, with mobile machines for processing and drying fruit and vegetables or transform them into purées, concentrates, thus guaranteeing a long hold over time while preserving the nutritional and organoleptic qualities.
“These are microwave-based machines. The problem is that it takes a lot of energy to process a fruit, while the raw material, fruit and vegetables, is already expensive. A banana is 10% of its mass after drying ! While this process is supposed to recover a lost product that cannot be sold, at what price to sell this new product knowing its cost? On the other hand, we have a product that keeps much longer, we gain in logistical efficiency in terms of saving space in storage trucks…”
The ideal would be to educate the consumer so that he favors taste and nutritional qualities rather than aesthetics. “ Retailers have their part to play: maybe if there were more unsightly productsconsumer acceptability would be stronger…”, Consider Dr. Susann Vierbauch.
The establishment of channels for secondary products is also to be encouraged. The Fraunhofer Institute is thus in partnership with a research center in Indonesia to enhance the whole of the cocoa bean. Today, only 10% of the fruit is used while the pulp, fermented (in drinks, paste) is rich in nutritional values. Similarly, the shell is discarded, which generates odors and diseases, while it can be used as a substrate for fungi, themselves a source of protein.
Play on hygiene in machines and materials and protection by packaging
Another technical solution to extend the lifespan: hygiene and cleaning; Automated and efficient example with the mobile cleaning device MCD (mobile cleaning device), which thanks to its UV sensors, uses the best product at the best pressure.
Another action point: coating/packaging materials. “All the studies show that plastic significantly increases the lifespan of a cucumber. But the sector faces the recyclability issue, recalls, annoyed, Dr. Susann Vierbauch. In Germany only 32% of plastic is recycled as such. Must also think about the future use of this recycled plastic (problem of odors for example). » And to mention the Institute’s partnership with Apeel for coating treatmentswhich play a role of physical and microbial protection.
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