One of the challenges facing the food industry is how to create tasty, convenient and experiential products made from health promoting ingredients.
Various services assisting and motivating food choices for well-being are also anticipated. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University of Kuopio are contributing to this development by starting the Solutions for Intelligent Nutrition (NUTRITECH) research programme with the aim of combining the development of enabling technologies with consumer and health sciences for the initiation of new food and nutrition solutions.
The NUTRITECH research programme (2007-2011) aims at the development of technologies and interdisciplinary expertise enabling new products and services for the promotion of consumer well-being through improved nutrition. Target industries include the food and packaging sectors as well as the communication and health care sectors.
With the help of its expertise in bioprocessing, VTT will tailor enzymatic and microbial technology tools for the isolation of health-promoting ingredients from raw-materials for the production of new ingredients and for modifying food characteristics to please consumers. One of the goals of the programme is to identify food factors relevant to sensory characteristics, digestibility and the bioavailability of nutrients. Expertise in biosciences, information and communication technology and behavioural sciences will be exploited in the programme.
The University of Kuopio will use its expertise in health and well-being in order to identify food and dietary factors relevant to maintaining health, and in the analysis of the efficacy of dietary prevention of chronic disease. The studies will be carried out e.g. with the help of clinical intervention trials. The systems biology and metabolomics expertise at VTT will also be useful in the identification of key metabolic routes important for dietary signalling.
"We will also work out new ways of interacting with companies in order to bring together technology push and business opportunities," says the coordinator of the programme, Research Professor Kaisa Poutanen. The exploitation and impact of the research will be a key feature of the programme, and it will also be part of the industrial platform open for interested companies. Technology foresights and discussion forums will be used to feature the possibilities and new applications in the field of healthy eating and well-being. The website of the programme will be available in November 2007 at www.nutritech.fi.