Food Science & Nutrition

Share this article:

Food Science & Nutrition

  • Join our comunity:

Food Waste Recovery: Time for Industrial Implementation

By: , Posted on: October 19, 2015

Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

Until the end of the 20th century, disposal of food wastes was not considered as a matter of concern. Particularly, increase of food production without improving the efficiency of the food systems was the prevalent policy. This consideration increased generation of wasted food along supply chains. In the 21th century, escalating demands for processed foods have required identification of concrete directions to minimize energy demands and economic costs as well as reduce food losses and waste.

Today, food wastes account as a source of valuable compounds and deal with the prospects of feeding fast growing population. Perspectives originate from the enormous amounts of food-related materials (food “losses”, “wastes”, “by-products” or “wasted by-products”), which are discharged worldwide and the existing technologies that promise not only the recovery, but also the recycling and sustainability of valuable ingredients inside food chain.

The prospect of recovering valuable compounds from food by-products is a story that started few decades ago. Citrus peel was one of the first by-products to be utilized for the recovery of essential oils and flavonoids, and their re-utilization as additives and flavorings in foods and fruit juices. Even earlier, solvent extraction had been applied to recover oil from olive kernels, which are one of the by-products derived from olive oil production. Nowadays, olive kernels are considered an established commodity similarly to olive fruit, whereas researchers focus on the recovery of polyphenols from olive mill wastewater. Over the last decade, several companies have started commercializing the latest process and are ambitious to turn this waste into valuable compounds. In the field of animal-derived side streams, cheese whey constitutes the most intensely investigated food by-product and represents a successful reference of valorization. Protein concentrates and various sugar derivatives are the prominent compounds derived from this source, as reflected by the numerous processes and products exist in the market.

These commercially available applications inspired the scientific community to intensify its efforts for the valorization of all kind of food by-products for recovery purposes. Besides, the perpetual disposal of high nutritionally proteins, antioxidants or dietary fibers in the environment is a practice that could not be continuing for a long time within the sustainability and bioeconomy frame of the food industry. Indeed, the depletion of food sources, the fast growing population and the increasing need for nutritionally proper diets do not allow considering other alternatives. As a result, a large number of projects have been initiated all over the globe and across scientific disciplines, whereas the existence of numerous scientific articles, patents, congresses and industrialization efforts has emerged a wealth of literature in the field. Despite this plethora of information and the developed technologies, the respective shelf products remain rather limited. For instance, only few companies across the globe are activated on this field, whereas many of them are in an early stage and have not developed their process in a commercial manner yet.

Figure 1: Development of a universal recovery strategy.
Figure 1: Development of a universal recovery strategy.


Click here for more figures as they relate to the “Universal Recovery Strategy” and the “5-Stages Universal Recovery Process”.

This is happening because the industrial implementation of food waste exploitation for the recovery of valuable components is a complex approach that needs careful consideration of numerous aspects. Waste emerges seasonally and often in large quantities and is prone to microbial spoilage. Therefore, drying or immediate processing is required. In addition, the concentration of target compounds varies significantly, which may be a challenge for subsequent standardization of extracts or products. Scale-up of processes developed on laboratory or pilot-plant scale needs to be appropriately designed to retain the functional properties of the target compounds. Finally, the product to be developed needs to meet the high expectations of the consumers in an increasingly competitive market.

Following these considerations, a commercially feasible product can be generated only if a certain degree of flexibility and alternative choices can be adapted in the developing methodology. Experience has shown that a project focused on the recovery technologies without investigating and establishing particular applications is doomed to fail because the final product might not be as beneficial as initially expected. In addition to these challenges, regulatory issues still exist and constitute a severe problem for the industry. Without doubt there is a market need for nutraceuticals and functional foods. However, marketing of such products using health claims requires comprehensive research activities to unambiguously demonstrate their health benefits. These studies are costly and constitute an impediment especially to small and medium-sized as well as spin-off and spin-out companies. So far, only a small number of compounds and products have been approved, whereas the overwhelming majority of health claims has been declined by regulatory bodies.

About the Book

Food Waste Recovery: Processing Technologies and Industrial Techniques acts as a guide to recover valuable components of food by-products and recycle them inside the food chain, in an economic and sustainable way. The book investigates all the relevant recovery issues and compares different techniques to help you advance your research and develop new applications. Strong coverage of the different technologies is included, while keeping a balance between the characteristics of current conventional and emerging technologies. This is an essential reference for research outcomes.

Key features of the book include:

food waste recovery• Presents a holistic methodology (the so-called “5-Stages Universal Recovery Process”) and a general approach (the so-called “Universal Recovery Strategy”) to ensure optimized management of the available technologies and recapture of different high added-value compounds from any waste source
• Includes characteristics, safety and cost issues of conventional and emerging technologies, the benefits of their application in industry, and commercialized applications of real market products
• Demonstrates all aspects of the recovery process such as preservation of the substrate, yield optimization, preservation of functionality of the target compounds during processing, and more

Visit the Elsevier Store to purchase your copy today. Use discount code “STC215″ at checkout and save up to 30%!

About the Editor

charis galanakisCharis M. Galanakis is a dynamic and interdisciplinary scientist with a fast-expanding work that balances between food and environment, industry and academia. His research targets mainly the separation and recovery of functional macro- and micro-molecules from different food by-products, as well as their implementation as additives in food and other products. He is the research & innovation director of Galanakis Laboratories (Chania, Greece), the co-founder of Phenoliv AB (Lund, Sweden) and the coordinator of Special Interest Group 5 of ISEKI Food Association (Vienna, Austria), which is the biggest network worldwide in the field of Food Waste Recovery. He serves as an editorial board member and subject editor of Food and Bioproducts Processing and Food Research International.

Follow Dr. Galanakis via Twitter – @CharisGalanakis, LinkedIn or ResearchGate.
Meet Dr. Galanakis at the ISEKI Food 2016 Food Waste Recovery Workshop and/or join the Food Waste Recovery & Innovation 2020 group on LinkedIn.

Connect with us on social media and stay up to date on new articles

Food Science & Nutrition

The field of food science is highly interdisciplinary, spanning areas of chemistry, engineering, biology, and many more. Researchers in these areas achieve fundamental advances in our understanding of agriculture, nutrition, and food-borne illness, and develop new technologies, like food processing methods and packaging material. Against a backdrop of global issues of food supply and regulation, this important work is supported by Elsevier’s catalog of books, eBooks, and journals in food science, considered essential resources for students, instructors, and health professionals worldwide. Learn more about our Food Science and Nutrition books here.