EIT Food is Europe’s leading agrifood innovation initiative, with the aim of creating a sustainable and future-proof food sector.
Its 2019 projects include activities aimed to sustainably increase food production, reduce food waste, improve public health and measure consumer confidence in the agrifood sector.
Europe’s €80bn research and innovation program
Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation program ever undertaken, garnering nearly €80bn ($90.8bn) of funding over seven years (2014 to 2020) aimed to secure Europe’s global competitiveness.
With the political backing of the European Parliament, it promises major breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking ideas from the lab to the market.
Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness.
Horizon 2020 is open to everyone, with a simple structure that reduces red tape and time so participants can focus on what is important. This approach makes sure new projects get off the ground quickly – and achieve results faster.
This year, EIT Food has upped its investment by 44% to €56.4m ($64m), which will go towards accelerating the activities of its global partner network of organizations from the food industry, universities and start-ups.
Funds will be distributed in the areas of start-ups (€6.8m/$7.7m), food system education (€7.8m/$8.8m), innovation projects creating marketable products and services (€25.6m/$29m), public engagement (€5.2m/$5.9m) and boosting innovation in the European region (€3m/$3.4m).
“I am delighted that we have managed to secure this substantial investment [under Horizon 2020] to be invested in the agrifood system,” said Dr Andy Zynga, CEO of EIT Food.
“The challenges that we face together in the agrifood system are huge, and it is only investments like these that will enable our unique network of partners to deliver radical change on how food is innovated, produced and valued by society.”
Herewith are just four of EIT Food's collaborations being undertaken in 2019.
The aim of this project is to make healthier snacks to meet the demand in developed markets, as well as fortified with much-needed nutrients for developing countries.
The intention is to innovate in the area of ‘savory snacks’ by expanding the types of vegetable crisps.
Infusion technology allows for nutrient fortification through commonly consumed foods that lack essential vitamins and minerals, such as tubers.
The consortium – made up of PepsiCo, Doehler and Givaudan – will develop two snacks: one fortified with calcium and vitamin D; another fortified with vitamin A, iron and zinc.
Fighting food waste
In 2018, Belgian retail chain and EIT Food partner, Colruyt, launched a student competition to reduce their three largest waste streams – bananas, bread and potatoes.
Three groups of students from the Universities of Reading, Leuven and Hohenheim were given nine months to create a product and pitch it to Colruyt.
Team Hohenheim won first place with their ‘Banabooms’, the first banana based alternative to conventional breakfast cereals.
The students are now receiving financial and professional support to bring their product to Colruyt’s shelves in 2019. The other two teams are also receiving support from Colruyt and other EIT Food partners to help turn their prototypes into commercial products.
This project will substantially modify Doux Matok’s (DM) innovative sugar reduction technology, along with flavor solutions from Givaudan, to reduce the sugar content in chocolate for use in chocolate chip cookies without affecting the overall sweetness, texture, mouthfeel and bulking that sugar provides.
The consortium of researchers – from the University of Reading, DM, Givaudan and the Strauss Group – is aiming for a 50% sugar reduction in chocolate where current solutions would need to use polyol technology, which would not be clean label.
It claims its solution will be clean label and provide added fiber and could be the catalyst to thousands of other chocolate-containing products.
Increasing sustainability, quality and yield
This project aims to address future challenges in the sector for sufficient, high quality, affordable food.
It will identify which wheat cultivars generate the highest yield and quality traits in different locations in Europe, analyze which are more drought tolerant, and test novel prototype biostimulants under field conditions.
These challenges will be delivered with a market-oriented approach by the multidisciplinary consortium involving farmer cooperative Grupo AN, the Spanish National Research Council, the University of Reading and Finish company GrainSense, which produced the world’s first hand held device for grain protein measurement.