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EcoBerries - new solutions enhancing safety, quality and value of organic Berries

The Core Organic Plus project EcoBerries started in spring 2015 and is making good progress. The project aims at developing sustainable packaging and processing solutions from the point of view that berries have very short shelf-life and as a result many tons of berries are thrown away each year after harvest and before consumption.

2016.11.01 | Camilla Mathiesen

Project coordinator Marie Alminger. Credit: Thomas Alföldi

The Core Organic Plus project Ecoberries addresses the challenges from different angles looking at the whole chain. New improved eco-sustainable packaging opportunities, pre-treatments and different drying techniques and high-pressure homogenization to increase shelf life are examined.

Project Coordinator, Marie Alminger from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, explains:

- The project aims to adapt existing processing methods to organic requirements but also to explore new solutions.Edible coating, for instance, alginate or pectin can be used to improve the shelf-life of fresh berries, and prevent weight loss and unintended softening of the berries. The drying of the berries is explored, as it is a mild alternative to adding sulfites, which naturally is not an option in organic production. The drying process could increase shelf life and preserve the aromas in the berries. Also, we use a virtual modified atmosphere tool developed by our French partner. The tool allows us to explore the optimal use of modified atmosphere in packaging of berries.

Growing interest from consumers
The project also contains consumer’s studies looking at the motives of the consumers to buy organic berries. These years there is a growing interest from consumers to buy organic berries and berry products, not least due to the healthy and nutritious value of berries, and the producers are having trouble meeting the rising demands. There has also within the EcoBerries Project been experiments with the combination of different drying techniques and extrusion for waste minimization and utilization of the side streams from berry juice production into e.g. added value products such as berry based extruded snacks.

The new technique, 3D printing is also brought into play in the EcoBerries project where it is used to create berry confectionaries with low sugar content. The high-pressure homogenization that destroys the damaging microorganisms has been tested in organic blueberry- and kiwi juice and has shown high potential in increasing the shelf life of berryjuices.

The project was introduced to the industry and other actors of the sector at a workshop organized as a side-event of the Fruit and Vegetable Processing Symposium in Avignon, France in April 2016. There has been a few delays in the project mainly due to heavy rain during last years’ harvest season of blueberries in Sweden, but now the remaining activities continues as planned.

The projects ends in 2018 – more info can be found on:
http://coreorganicplus.org/research-projects/ecoberries/

Agriculture and food
Tags: CORE Organic, EcoBerries