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Reporting period: 2017-08-01 to 2018-01-31

Carobs are cultivated mainly in Mediterranean countries, particularly Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Morocco and Turkey, which together account for approximately 92% of the global production. Nowadays carob the market is focused on the products generated from carob seed, deeming carob pulp as a low-value product used in animal feed. However, raw carob pulp is considered as a “superfood” due to their bioactive components and their beneficial properties for health: antioxidant, energetic, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, antidiahorrea, antihyperlipidemia, etc. In fact, carob is included in the priority list of wild-collected medicinal and aromatic plants as novel food (Wild-collected botanicals and the EU market, Trade for Development Centre – BTC (Belgian Development Agency) -2015).

Carob pulp is used in human food as roasted carob flour, but this ‘high temperature roasting process’ has a negative effect in the product since the bioactive and nutritional properties of carob pulp are altered (the total polyphenolic content and the total antioxidant activity is reduced as a result of this process). Roasted carob is mainly used in human consumption and raw carob pulp is mostly common in animal feed, therefore the beneficial properties of raw carob pulp are not being exploited for human food. The main drawback to commercialise raw carob pulp in food sector is the heterogeneity of the product, low solubility and the lack of technology to process the carob pulp.

On the other hand, superfoods are increasingly popular according to industry sources; 56% of European consumers use superfoods to improve their health with food or drink. Currently, consumers are much more conscious and aware about health and many share the perception that the onset of many chronic diseases can be prevented with the proper intake of nutritious diet.

The main objective of DEMICROCAROB project is the development and commercialisation of micronized dehydrated carob flour by means of an innovative and sustainable process. DEMICROCAROB product has better properties than current products in the market, low humidity, steady microbiologic profile and no chemical additives. DEMICROCAROB preserves the original nutritional properties and active principles of raw carob and increases the lifetime of the product. As a summary, the purpose of DEMICROCAROB project is to develop and commercialise a new natural ingredient with functional properties (antioxidant, energetic, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, gluten free, etc.) from carob pulp. DEMICROCAROB project will commercialise raw carob flour (superfood) as an ingredient in functional food, sport food, diabetic food, coeliac food, vegan food and food supplements markets.
PEDRO PÉREZ has received three days sessions of EASME coaching during SME instrument phase 1. During these sessions with the coach Juan de Blas Pombo, the following topics were analysed:
1. Overall project revision and coaching description. Technical overview.
2. CANVAS. Business model. IPR and freedom to operate revision.
3. Market access strategy (suppliers, consumers...).
4. Internationalisation strategy
5. Business plan revision
6. Structure of the phase 2 memory
7. Revision memory 2. Weak points

The main conclusion after the Phase I are:
- During this first phase, the company has designed the most convenient and effective business plan with the support of the assigned SME Program Coach.
- The company is developing the initial steps of the designed business plan, with the help of the coaching sessions. Assisted by the coach, we have developed the CANVAS model and market access strategy.
- Besides, we have detected the need of a clear IPR strategy to ensure the successful commercialisation of DEMICROCAROB.
- The main bottlenecks and barriers for the commercialisation have been identified, as well as the measures to overcome these barriers.

The result from this analysis and work, has been very positive for the team of PEDRO PEREZ to ensure the project successful by means of: business plan, commercial strategy, price strategy and product development plan. PEDRO PEREZ will continue the coaching sessions to improve the commercialization method, communication plan…

At this stage, PEDRO PÉREZ considers that EASME coaching will be also positive during the 2nd Phase for the following actions:
- To update the commercialisation plan after product demonstration.
- To develop the pricing policy for the final product versions and targeted markets.
- To support PEDRO PÉREZ in communication activities.
The main novelty of DEMICROCAROB project is the valorisation and commercialisation of carob pulp by means an innovative treatment to obtain a natural product available for the food sector with the same properties than raw carob pulp. The key innovation is the use of a new dehydrating process to sanitise carob pulp without chemicals at human food level, and to reduce its water content to enable a further specific milling to get a particle size under 200 μm. The new product will accomplish all the food safety regulation and it will have the suitable homogeneity and solubility to human food applications.

The key market application of the innovation project will be functional foods (anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, antidiahorrea, antihyperlipidemia), especially for diabetic foods, coeliac foods and also for sport foods (energetic food supplement, increases muscular mass), vegan foods and food supplements.

The main economic benefit of DEMICROCAROB is the low relative cost regarding its beneficial and healthy properties. DEMICROCAROB will allow food producers to reduce production costs of functional foods. For instance, the introduction of new ingredients which can substitute the other more ingredients, is emerging in the marketplace of FISP (food intended for sportspeople), for instance, DEMICROCAROB is a low-cost ingredient, highly energetic that increases muscular mass.

At the environmental level, DEMICROCAROB process is sustainable, without CO2 emissions; while the traditional roasting process uses fossil fuels. In addition, the carob tree has a large CO2 fixation capacity and plays an important role in mitigating climate change. It is considered an environmental friendly crop.

Moreover, PEDRO PÉREZ is located in a rural area close to farmers; this fact strengthens the relationship with its suppliers and helps the company promoting the projects in which we are currently involved in all social, economic and environmental fields. One of the main targets of PEDRO PÉREZ MARTÍNEZ is to encourage the cultivation of the carob tree among the farmers and agricultural cooperatives in its local region. The company cooperates actively in the promotion of the carob crop; by being a member of business associations which support the product and by taking part in R&D projects which study the crop.

The activity of PEDRO PÉREZ is carried out in a sustainable way in all environmental, social and economic dimensions. In addition, its aim is to disclose that carob contains functional and bioactive components, which are especially beneficial for human health.

DEMICROCAROB project will boost the carob sector by means the revalorisation of carob pulp with positive socio-economic and environmental impacts.
Carob pod