Innovation Barriers and Industrial Implementation of Food Waste Recovery

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SusValueWaste seminar at NIFU 05.04.2016.

The seminar was about innovation barriers and industrial implementation of food waste recovery. An enormous amount of food waste is discharged worldwide which makes this an important topic when discussing sustainable development. Existing technologies can offer recovery and sustainability of high added-value ingredients inside the food chain. However, there are currently few of these types of products delivered in the marked.

For the seminar, we had invited Charis Galanakis, an expert on food in an environmental context. Galanakis presented innovation barriers such as costs and control regarding the collection of food waste. Because of the need to control microbial growth, proper management of the collection process, freezing/cooling or addition of chemical preservatives, were proposed solutions. Another barrier is linked to scaling due to the broad content variations of bio-resources. For commercial implementation, Galanakis stressed the importance to establish the application of the final product in the earlier stages of the innovation process. To succeed, companies should start considering the market driver; what kind of end product is actually in demand?

Although there is a market demand for healthier food, there is a challenging environment for food innovators explained by issues such as food safety concerns, health risks and complex globalized food chains. Authorities around the world are driven by the need to protect the consumers from dubious claims and have restricted the companies’ possibilities to advertise health benefits. Consumers are also skeptical about the safety of products derived from by-products and especially food waste.

Participants were invited to ask questions and give comments throughout the seminar. One question was; what types of companies are currently focusing on food waste? According to Galanakis two types of companies stand out; 1) spin-offs from research institutes, and 2) larger companies that do closed in house innovation processes in order to patent and fully control their discoveries. These large companies have an advantage since they can finance the health benefit applications and related studies. Cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies were pointed out as potential sectors for application of the extracted resources.

Galanakis also recommended a production line near, but not inside the food industries, to ensure minimum transportation and meet relevant requirements. As a potent business case for the future, he suggested a bio-refinery which should be organized to handle different waste streams and refine them according to the relevant season.

Another topic discussed at the seminar was the challenge of making policies within the field since it entails a cross-ministries policy orientation. In addition, several of the participants emphasized the challenge of the term “food waste”, calling for new terminology that does not give any waste associations, but instead think of it as a resource. 16 participants representing both researchers and business developers attended the seminar and two persons joined through streaming. All left the seminar informed that The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has recently employed a food waste expert – illustrating that food waste recovery is an important field in emergence also in Norway.

For more info see the seminar PPT: Galanakis presentation_SusValueWaste seminar April52016

About Charis Galanakis:
Charis Galanakis is from Crete in Greece and is involved in both academic and industrial projects related to food recovery. He focuses his research about the separation and recovery of functional macro- and micro-molecules from different food by-products and their implementation as additives in food and other products. His PhD concerned recovery and clarification of organic constituents from olive mill wastewater. Currently, Galanakis is a coordinator of Special Interest Group 5 of ISEKI Food Association, the worlds biggest food waste recovery network based in Vienna. He is also working at the Galanakis Laboratories in Greece, run by his family for three generations. The laboratory offers services to customers in the sector of implementation of physical, chemical, and microbiological analyses on foods, waters and wastes.

Recently Galanakis edited the book “Food Waste Recovery: Processing Technologies and Techniques” where 50 experts contributed. It is a guide to recover valuable components of food by-products and recycle them inside the food chain, both in an economic and sustainable way. The book presents both the current conventional and emerging technologies. At the seminar, Galanakis especially recommended the chapter about commercialization which includes topics such as patents, and recovery and applications of enzymes from food waste. Currently, Galanakis is also preparing a new book titled “Innovation Strategies in the food industry” that will be published in July 2016.

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