Healthy research reaching out to the food industry

Difficult. Many roadblocks. High expenses.

The way to new products within healthy food is not easy so why bother with this area?

Because the potential rewards are sky high and the future aspects are bright.

That was the conclusion at the conference “The Health Vision”, where companies such as Naturmælk, DuPont and Coca-Cola shared their experiences together with scientists from Aarhus University. Other partners of the conference were Danish Technological Institute, Future Food Innovation and Danish Food Cluster.

One mayor obstacle is public acceptance and that was highlighted by Eugenio Butelli from John Innes Centre, UK. They have developed super vegetables with great attributes but the fact that these are gene modified it is not accepted as natural food by the public. Therefor the development of the Beneforte Brocoli has taken place by using another method but still keeping great healthy attributes in the product.

An issue related to research in companies is the time aspect, as things change rapidly. Both DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences and Naturmælk have been a part of the earlier work in the health vision and in both cases the output was different than expected. DuPont had to make organizational changes that affected the use of the research and the result Naturmælk found was not as ready for use as they have hoped.

These are just some of the challenges in the collaboration between research and industry. But on the other side there is a great potential as the customers are demanding individual products with individual healthy attributes as one of the remarks by Klaus G. Grunert, Leader of AU MAPP Centre. Adding to that, there is a growing pressure from the politicians demanding even more innovation in this area. Peter Høngaard Andersen from Innovationsfonden presented some of their focus areas in funding health and food related projects. He emphasized that business development within agriculture will receive a large part of the funding allocated for 2016.

With the challenges comes a great potential.
This was presented through the story about stevia as a substitutes for sugar. Prof. Per Bendix Jeppesen’s presentation on stevia set the scientific background on how using this sweetener in foods and drinks can help tackle some of the most pressing health problems in society, such as diabetes and obesity. Coca-Cola has recently launched their Coca-Cola Life with stevia and showed that there is are great potential in using healthier ingredients than earlier- even though Mikael Bonde-Nielsen emphasized that Coca-Cola is not a healthy product but at soft drink.

The next step in the health vision is a gathering on May 18, where the industry is specially invited to come up with ideas and suggestions for future projects within the focus area.

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