Reading participates in European Challenge to develop solutions for food waste

Preparing Fillings- EIT ProjectSix Masters Students enrolled within the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development (SAPD), School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy (SCFP), and Henley Business School are participating in a European challenge sponsored by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) to develop new, innovative solutions in relation to food waste from retailing activities.

The University of Reading is one of three Universities (KU Leuven - Belgium and Hohenheim University - Germany, being the other two) participating in the project called "Circular Food Generator Track", which includes the collaboration of three industrial partners: Colruyt Group' Deutsches Institut for Lebensmitteltechnik (DIL) and Puratos, in addition to the European Food Information Council (EUFIC).

The challenge runs alongside the 2017-18 academic year and features potatoes, banana and bread waste streams. The leading partner, Colruyt, selected these food items as they make up a significant portion of food waste from the European retail sector.

The Reading team is focusing on potatoes nearing their sell by date, which are currently destined to be removed from supermarket shelves to be disposed of as waste. The team has developed a delicious and original croquet-type product called 'Potato Globe', which would be available in three different fillings: Mediterranean, South East Asian and West-African. The idea was inspired by the diverse backgrounds of the students involved. The product is designed to be of premium quality, containing less fat than competing products, whilst also being excitingly tasty and free from artificial ingredients.

Dr Paola Tosi, Senior Research Fellow of Crop Production, Dr Ese Omoarukhe, Post-doctoral research fellow and our students recently joined other universities teams and the industrial partners for two days of training and a pilot plant trial at the DIL facility in Quakenbruck, Germany. This gave students the opportunity to investigate ways of scaling up the production process for the potato globes with the assistance of DIL staff, who provided expertise and equipment to help the team achieve their goals.

The masters students who are taking part in the research are Ezria Adyas, Hammad Kazi and Liz Oakes, from SAPD, Maria Vogiatzi and Oluwafemi Ogunlalu, from SCFP, and Jonas Tusar from HBS. Maria Vogiatzi commented on their trip saying: "It was a valuable experience. We had the chance to work with a team of experts in a very well equipped pilot plant. Technicians helped us to understand what changes we would need to make to our product in order for it to be manufactured at an industrial scale. We also learned new The UoR team- EIT projectthings by attending the meetings, and had the chance to interact with the other teams. The hospitality of the DIL members was excellent!".

As the project progresses the team will continue to test recipes and processing steps in Reading's pilot plant (SCFP), with the aim to achieve an optimal product by the end of this academic year. They are hoping to win the challenge and see their final products on the frozen food aisles of retail stores around Europe in the near future.

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