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Challenges in food and nutrition

The food industry is facing some of the biggest challenges in history. How can we supply enough healthy food to a growing population in a way that is sustainable and trusted by the consumer?

Among industries, governments and sociatal organizations, awareness is growing that a shift is needed towards healthier, more-sustainable diets. In national and international agendas for research three important themes are prevalent in all these agendas: healthy nutrition, consumer engagement and sustainable food systems. These themes offer also offer tremendous business opportunities. Those who are early in marrying personalised products and services built on a deep understanding of consumer behaviour, for example, or in developing smart tools to support farmers in eco-friendly production have much to gain.

At TiFN, we believe only a holistic, systems approach can truly tackle the issues, challenging our largest system, our planet. Such an approach would focus on providing healthy nutrition tailored to peoples’ individual needs, based on ‘smart’ food production, within the boundaries of our one planet, yet producing sufficient nutrition to feed the global polulation. And, crucially, it would restore consumer engagement and trust: as a food manufacturer you can develop any product or technology you wish but, in the end, it is the consumer who decides to buy it or not.

By chosing this approach in eight innovation challenges in three strategic themes, TiFN’s research will remain devoted to its creed of industrial relevance, scientific excellence and societal impact:

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  • TiFN

    29 January 2019 - “Theory and practice must connect” To develop a tool that integrates sustainability and circularity into product and packaging development was the aim of Bjorn de Koeijer’s research. His work culminated in creating the sustainability guardian: a model that supports development teams in taking well-considered decisions. On December 13th 2018, the TiFN PhD fellow defended his thesis at the University of Twente. De Koeijer was happily working as a consultant when his former professor felt he would be interested in a research project on sustainability and circularity in packaging development; a topic dear to his heart, says the industrial designer, who graduated from the University of Twente in 2011 and had never considered an academic job. “In the food industry, everyone is talking about sustainable packaging, but in practice this issue disappears into the background, with commercial considerations dominating. So it is essential to investigate the dynamics of the development process, who makes the decisions and which criteria are most valued.” Read more: https://lnkd.in/dgC_zP9

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  • TiFN

    29 January 2019 - Looking back with the first TiFN PhD and the 200th! A PhD provides the perfect springboard for a successful career, say André Pots and Mariya Tarazanova – TiFN’s first and 200th PhD fellows. “Learning to think independently and reflect on your research approaches, results and personal skills is of great value, no matter whether you continue in research, or choose a different field.” Twenty years ago, in December 1998, Andre Pots became the first PhD fellow to join TiFN – at that time known as Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences – and later to successfully defend his thesis (on the physicochemical properties and thermal aggregation of patatin, the major potato tuber protein. Shortly after that memorable day he moved on to Unilever, where he helped develop thermally preserved, ambient-stable soups and sauces. “In my first job, the personal skills I developed during my PhD were more important than the content”, he stresses. “I have, for example, learned to rely on my own ideas and decisions and act independently. Because, in your PhD project, if you don’t do it, nobody else will.” Read more: https://lnkd.in/dANsdxS

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  • TiFN

    29 January 2019 - Sustainable Packages Research Program presents results From 2015 to 2019, researchers from the universities of Twente, Groningen, Wageningen, Aachen and from TNO, worked together in the TiFN project Sustainable Packages, to reduce the environmental load in the product packaging chain. The secretariat – The Netherlands Institute for Sustainable Packaging (KIDV) – organized a conference to share the final results with industry, government and knowledge institutions. Director Chris Bruijnes of the KIDV, and TiFN managing director Ronald Visschers opened the final symposium. Bruijnes: "Complex issues have no simple answers; solving them requires an interdisciplinary approach." Visschers added: "You can see from the results of this project that such an approach has been a success. Behavioural scientists, materials technologists, modellers and designers found a common language and methodology which enhanced their collaboration. The scientific results are already being applied by industry". Read more at https://lnkd.in/epFP5CH

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  • TiFN

    29 January 2019 - TiFN microbiology research projects receive outstanding mid-term evaluations TiFN hosts two molecular microbiology projects in which public-private consortia conduct academic research that has industrial relevance. The projects were reviewed by renowned international scientists. The Spores project, headed by Prof. Han Wösten, in which the heterogeneity of fungal spores is being studied (in order to reduce/prevent food spoilage), scored 8 out of 10. The Trade-Offs project, headed by Dr Herwig Bachmann, which studies the optimisation of dairy fermentations, scored 9 out of 10. In both cases the reviewers were very enthusiastic about the progress made in just 2 years. They noted the quality of the team. Finally they assessed the potential synergy within the projects and the industrial relevance of the outcomes. TiFN guides public-private research projects towards success. We have learned that collaborations between industry and academic groups need more than just a good, scientific proposal to be successful in the long run. The TiFN Way of Working builds on more than 20 years experience in this field and includes many different aspects of team-building, project management and knowledge dissemination.

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