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Innovative down-scaled FOod processing in a boX

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FOX (Innovative down-scaled FOod processing in a boX)

Reporting period: 2019-06-01 to 2020-11-30

The unique FOX approach will research and develop innovative, small scale technologies in mobile or flexible processing units for different applications for small and medium enterprises and farmers in the fruit and vegetable sector in Europe. FOX will focus on mild processing technologies: low temperature drying, mild extraction, mild preservation with pulsed electric field or high pressure, innovative conditioning and packaging and rapid quality testing. By this a variety of fruit/vegetable products can be produced with superior physical and nutritional quality and so contributing to a healthier food diet. FOX stimulates short food supply chains; transitioning from a more centralised industry, to local production hubs. FOX processes will be demonstrated in six European model regions and seven associated partner regions (only demonstration) with significant fruit and vegetable growing (conventional and organic production). The potential for new business options will be exploited and strategies will be designed to engage consumers in product development processes. Impact of the FOX approach on the environment, business, people and their health will be assessed and serve as input for these developments. To promote the FOX approach of small scale technologies for regional food systems a Europe-wide Interest Group of Small Scale food Processors will be set up that will also foster the dialogue to deliver policy recommendations. Guidelines and targeted communication for each processing technology will be developed to reach potential users.
In the first third of the project, scientific and technical research started in all four Food circles (FC) with different focuses: i) in FC 1 (Low oxygen juice extraction and mild preservation, Bodensee, DE) the focus was on concept development of the mobile unit and the technologies included. The conceptual visualisation (3D Model) is completed; ii) in FC 2 (Low temperature drying, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Volvodeship, PL & Central Bohemian, CZ) an analysis of different drying techniques on the impact of product quality and process kinetics on laboratory scale took place, as well as research on pre-treatment by Ultrasound, Pulsed Electric Field and High-Pressure Processing; iii) FC 3 (Quality analysis and sustainable packaging, Valencia, SP, Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur, FR) evaluated devices for mobile application to rapidly analyse sugar content, acidity, firmness, gas evolution and colour and investigated impact of different pre-treatment processes on product quality of selected fruits and vegetables; an eco-design strategy for the packaging systems has been defined; iv) FC 4 (Upscaling plant side streams, Noord-Brabant, NL) defined selection criteria (availability, quality, current use and costs and benefits and potential end products and markets) for plant-based food, side streams and quality parameters of selected product categories were determined after application of mild pre-processing technologies.

The consumer engagement process started by conducting a baseline study in the FOX circles (feedback by 3,000 questionnaires) to assess i.e. consumer values, attitudes and food purchasing behaviour. The prototype of the FOXLINK app has been developed.

First life cycle assessment (LCA) analysis was carried out. Relevant parameters for life cycle cost (LCC) analysis were identified and the methodological approach for nutrition quality and health impact assessment has been established, both based on comprehensive literature review. Foresight work resulted in two brochures: “50 trends influencing European’s food sector by 2030” and “Three scenarios for Europe’s food sector in 2035”. The FOX Best Practice for Innovation Workshops took place with farmers and small scale fruit processors.

The FOX website is continuously updated with latest results, articles, project videos & interviews.
FOX focusses on research of innovative food processing technologies adapted in scale and handling to the application in mobile and/or modular units for processing of fresh fruits and vegetables into high quality products. This will be demonstrated in the four Food circles. The consumer engagement approach will be continued in the context of local food systems and inventories will be finalized with an end-line study. Knowledge is generated by various life cycle assessment analyses and a view on potential business models about the impact of developed FOX units on environment, economy, society and health. Diverse knowledge exploitation and dissemination activities will ensure impact of the project in the short, medium and long term.