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H2020

CERATONIA Report Summary

Project ID: 790025

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CERATONIA (Valorisation of the carob pod into an added value natural extract for the food and drink industry)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2018-04-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Beet and cane sugar’s reputation is plummeting among EU28 citizens. Consequently, the Food&Drink industry is seeking for alternative sweeteners to enhance their products’ palatability while meeting consumers’ demands of healthier and natural products. In this context, fruit concentrates arise as a reliable sugar substitute since they are a natural sweetener perceived as healthier. This segment is expected to grow globally at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 5.5% to reach an estimated global value of around 38,500 M€ by 2022 .
Encouraged by this situation, in GMFortún we have developed a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly process to obtain from the carob pod a bioactive natural sweetener suited for the Food & Drink and Nutraceutical industry. It consists on a syrup with a balanced proportion of carbohydrates, PINITOL (a bioactive compound), minerals (very rich in Potassium) and refined polyphenols. This unique composition makes it nutritionally healthier than other sweeteners and a perfect sugar substitute, especially in the juice industry.
We have received the interest from key companies from the Food&Drink and Nutraceutical sector that have encourage us to develop this new product since it fits their technical and commercial needs.
Besides its market potential, CERATONIA+ will bring important environmental benefits. The carob pod (our raw material) is a by-product of the carob tree’s fruit. The carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua L.) is a Mediterranean crop acknowledged by its environmental benefits: it can recover eroded soil, survive to heavy droughts and wildfires, improve soils’ fertility by fixing nitrogen and fix 3 times more CO2 than other woody crops with 2.5 times less water. Thanks to our product, we will promote the growing of 5,500ha. of carob trees, that will fix 114,876tn. of CO2/year.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During these 5 months we have achieved a significant progress beyond the already ambitious work plan presented in Phase 1 proposal. We have demonstrated the feasibility of our innovation in the three main critical areas

-Technical viability: Thanks to an ad-hoc designed pilot plant we have validated a cost-effective process to obtain a high-quality syrup making use of the most innovative technology. We have designed the industrial plant for the industrial production of our syrup and we have contacted companies to evaluate the required investment.
- Commercial feasibility: We have carried out an in-deep market analysis, to seize the market, to better understand our future users, and to identified competitors. Numbers and projections show good potential for our product. With this information we have drafted a commercialisation strategy. We have also clarified next steps in our Intellectual property protection strategy.
- Financial feasibility: With the information collected on the investment needed on the market demand we have updated our business plan and financial projections.

Thanks to this study we confirm the complete viability of our innovation.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The final objective is to obtain a cost effective high-quality carob tree syrup adapted to the needs of the food industry. The success of our product will have a direct and significant positive impact in society.

Positive environmental impact: Carob tree is a tree that requires no irrigation and grows in depleted soils. Additionally, as a tree from the family of Fabaceae it fixes nitrogen so it contributes to the fertility of depleted soils and sequesters CO2 from the atmosphere. Therefore, the propagation of carob tree plantations is expected to have a direct positive impact in the environment, to contribute to better soils and to slow down desertification.

Positive economic socio - impact: The valorisation of a traditional crop will foster rural economies and provide job opportunities in rural areas.

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