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What Are the Innovation Barriers of Food Waste Recovery?

By: , Posted on: December 7, 2015

food waste recovery bins

The recovery of valuable compounds from food wastes is today one of the most emerging topics in the area of food science and sustainability. However, despite the omnipresence of related studies and patented methodologies, the market existing products derived from food wastes, are today rather limited. So, what are the barriers of making this trend really happen?

This is not a simple question met with a simple answer. Industrialization of such processes includes numerous issues such as laboratory research, transfer to pilot plan and full-scale production, protection of intellectual properties, development of definite applications, commercialization problems and in some cases approval of products’ health claims. These issues are necessary in order to ensure the sustainability of the process, the economic benefit for the involved food industry and the perpetual establishment of the derived products in the market.

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For example, waste collection in the source is a critical problem that often requires additional transportation cost and control of microbial growth. Proper management of collection process, cooling/freezing of the material and/or addition of chemical preservatives can provide solutions at the particular case. Another complicated problem is the broad variation of target and non-target compounds from source-to-source. This fact affects the mass and energy balances as well as the functionality and the organoleptic character of the final products, especially in the case of more crude extracts. The above problem may be modified by adding a pre-treatment step. Besides, scale up of recovery processes meets the same limitations as any food manufacture procedure. Transition of batch to continuous processes is usually accompanied with extension of mixing and heating time, heavier handling, increased air incorporation and higher degree of scrutiny. All of these parameters generate numerous interactions and loss of product’s functionality. Subsequently, process cost is increased, as industrially recovered compounds are used in food formulations in higher concentrations compared to laboratory-recovered compounds.

Methodologies with less recovery steps are cheaper and scale up easier, but at the same time, they generate cruder products with lower concentrations of target compounds. On the other hand, safety assessment and market release permission of purified active compounds is very demanding. This procedure includes long and sophisticated tests on different species of laboratory animals (similarly to synthetic antioxidants). In the case of enriched natural extracts, the criteria are not so strict. This is happening because natural extracts are considered to exist inherently in foods and thus safety concerns are limited.

In another view, innovations in the field are driven by spin-off or start-up companies, which areusually created by researchers. They are considered as small and medium enterprises (SMEs), although in most cases are even smaller (micro-enterprises). These companies are struggling to implement innovations in the field due to limitations and numerous barriers, such as the lack of adequate collaborations, the minimal external experience (competition) and the limited financial resources for internal research and development. Finally, developments in the chain’s environment, like the availability of new technologies or restrictions imposed by governmental and supra-governmental legislation, can also trigger innovation efforts.

For instance, common problems often arise by the market needs for healthier products. Authorities around the world have tightened up the way in which companies can advertise health benefits. In the case of EU, health claims have been approved for a small number of compounds (e.g. hydroxytyrosol in olive oil) and products (e.g. cholesterol-reducing yogurts and butters). This policy is driven by the need of protecting consumers from dubious claims. Nevertheless, demonstration of proven health benefits is very costly for the companies activated in the field, as identified above. This fact creates implications and stifles innovation in the field, as the obtainment of the required data is not affordable and the above companies cannot afford them. Besides, the risk of claims rejection by the corresponding authorities is too high.

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. Click here for figures as they relate to the development and recovery strategy.

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 Food Waste Recovery Workshop, join the Food Waste Recovery & Innovation 2020 group on LinkedIn or the Food Waste Recovery Page on Facebook.

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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.