Substantial amounts of vegetables are thrown away before they even reach the grocery store.
A new research project explores the opportunities to develop new food products by using unutilized resources in vegetable and beef production. In the project, several actors are collaborating with the aim of increasing the resource efficiency and the profitability of the Swedish food sector – by offering innovative grocery products.
The project is being led by scientists at the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL) and is conducted in collaboration with Axfoundation, Ipsos, MatLust, the collaboration platform for reduced food waste (Samarbete för minskat matsvinn), Forum for reduced food waste (Matsvinnet) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). The initiative was recently granted support from the research counsil Formas.
“Almost a third of all the food produced globally today is thrown away or is lost somewhere along the production chain. It’s an enormous waste of resources that also causes great climate impact and emissions.” – Elvira Molin, Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL)
In the production of vegetables and beef, unutilized resources flows in the form of shells, haulms, deformed vegetables and leftover meat are either thrown away, used as animal fodder or exported as a result of the lack of Swedish demand. Some parts can be seen as less appetizing or contain substances that are not healthy to eat in greater amounts.
“Bringing by-products back into the Swedish food culture comes with a few challenges. To produce food products that are attractive to consumers, we will work in close collaboration with Axfoundation’s innovation team at Torsåker Farm. The taste and sensory aspects will be in focus, and different consumer tests will be take place to evaluate and follow up.” – Elvira Molin, Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL)
The target group for the project is both younger and older consumers, focusing on the food that can be used within the public sector, such as schools and senior homes.
To measure the environmental benefits and the profitability, the new products will be analyzed from a life cycle perspective, focusing on the potential to increase profitability in the Swedish agriculture and food industry.
Veronica Öhrvik is a project manager for the program Future Food at Axfoundation.
In the project, Axfoundation is responsible for developing new food products using residual flows that are currently not being utilized. The project is a part of Axfoundation’s program area Future Food and the tests will be conducted at Torsåker Farm. The developments are in the early stages, but the aim is to contribute to new innovative products from the year 2024.
“Thanks to our test kitchens and our development team at Torsåker Farm, we have the ideal conditions to innovate food products that can be used at for example school kitchens or senior homes.” – Veronica Öhrvik, project manager for Future Food, Axfoundation