A Basque marine and food research center, AZTI-Tecnalia, is carrying out research into exploiting by-products derived from the processing of citrus fruits and from wheat in order to create new food products and feed for aquaculture. This research is being undertaken by a consortium of companies and technological centers in Europe and India and financed by the 7th European Framework Programme.
Every year, the world food industry generates millions of tons of by-products derived from the processing and manufacture of vegetables. Only a small part of this is employed in obtaining new products – the rest is considered to be waste, with the concomitant negative impact on the environment. The plant by-products are highly unstable, mainly due to oxidation and microbiological deterioration. Thus, AZTI-Tecnalia and the other partners in the project consider it of great importance to put technologically and economically viable strategies into place in order to transform these materials into added value foodstuffs and animal feed, thus helping to prevent these from being treated as waste and, thereby, increasing the sustainability and the competitiveness of both the Indian and the European food industry.
The project, known as NAMASTE, is one of the principal co-operative programs between Europe and India in food research. Its main aim is to develop innovative and sustainable strategies that can be applied industrially in order to give value to by-products derived from the processing and treatment of citrus, mango and pomegranate as well as wheat and rice bran, through their conversion into natural ingredients and bioactive molecules to be used in the development of new food products and feed for aquaculture that can be marketed on the European and Indian markets in the future.
The NAMASTE project also supports the exchange of knowledge and methodologies between the consortium of companies and European and Indian technological centers. This relationship augments the interaction between researchers from different countries and sets out an appropriate framework for the generation of joint-ventures amongst companies from India and Europe. Food safety and care for the environment are other goals of the program, in which scientists will evaluate the chemical and microbiological quality of new products developed, as well as the economic and environmental sustainability of the processes employed in the transformation of the by-products.
The European companies and technological centers making up the NAMASTE project, led by the University of Bologna (Italy), are: the Institute of Food Research (United Kingdom), Campden BRI (Hungary), Agrotechnology and Food Innovations (Holland), Grupo Leche Pascual (Spain), J. Rettenmeier & Söhne (Germany) and the research company AZTI-Tecnalia. In a parallel manner, in India, another work group has been set up, made up of companies and technological centers that work closely with the European bodies. The activities planned for the program started in 2010 and will finish at the beginning of 2013.