Rod Howells representing Future Foods and Louise Neilson from Nutri-Wales crossed the channel last week in the search for new and exciting ideas for collaboration. They said au revoir to the rainy British weather and landed in Rennes, France for the two-day NutrEvent.
What is NutrEvent?
NutrEvent is a partnering event which supports the development of collaborations and working partnerships across industry, academia and stakeholders to drive forward exciting feed, food, health and nutrition R&D projects and innovations.
With over 600 participants, 50 exhibitors and high-level speakers and over 25 countries represented, Louise and Rod had a lot of activities to cover in 48 hours.
What was discussed at the event?
Gut health and chronic disease
Gut health was a big topic at the event, looking at the impact of diet, prebiotics and probiotics on microbiome composition and the ability to reduce chronic disease prevalence as well as improve symptoms for GI related diseases, weight management and mental health. Louise and Rod learned that there are many trials taking place worldwide as research continues to link diet to general wellbeing and health.
You are what you eat
Ever considered a link between animal feed and welfare to human nutrition? Another hot topic at the event was how to improve the composition of animal feed through different sources of supplementation can have a positive impact on human health. This can occur by improving the nutritional composition and bioavailability of meat and dairy, for example through the addition of algae as a feed additive. It was apparent that there was an interest from multi-national animal feed companies in moving into alternative protein sources, including algae, fungi and insects.
Reduce deforestation with alternative protein sources
As the issues regarding soya bean cultivation have been recently highlighted in global media, there increase in interest continues for alternative protein sources. Areas of significant interest are fava beans, peas, water lentils and lupin. This new interest could open up new market opportunities for companies and farmers that are interested in alternative crop production.
The value of algae
The interest in algae doesn’t seem to be dying down either, as there is still a big interest in the development of algae processing and the development of added value products from the algae biomass produced. This could provide sustainable, circular economy solutions for improving the carbon footprint of food processing sites as well as provide an alternative revenue stream. We will be looking into this area in more detail over the coming months.
Orri from Algalif, based in Iceland provided Louise and Rod with a very insightful talk about the start-up of an algae bio-processor and the challenges of working in a cold climate with a relatively new industrial application. After lots of trial and error Algalif are now delivering strong, profitable turnover, but also highlighted the fact that quality control systems and data capture was really important to analyse performance and drive improvement as well as the need for businesses to continually diversify in terms of product offerings to ensure success.
Nutri-Wales are launching a Special Interest Group for algae (micro and macro) and would be interested in hearing from anyone interested in finding out more about their objectives and ideas. Get in touch here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Swap eggs for insects?
Ever considered reaching for a bag of meal worms as an afternoon snack? The conversation over in Rennes was a significant area of debate, either as animal feed or for human consumption. BIC Innovation are part of a new North West European Interreg project that is starting in January 2020, exploring the potential for insects to be a future source of nutrition and supporting research and innovation in this topic.
Rod and Louise attended a talk by Dr. Sabine Van Miert, from RADIUS at Thomas More University of Applied Sciences who is leading this project, talking about the need to address consumer acceptance and the need to carry out more research to determine its potential. Sabine also explained how insects can provide higher levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet, especially linoleic and linolenic acid.
As developing international collaborations across the area of nutrition, health and wellbeing in both animal and human nutrition was the objective of this trip, Louise and Rod met with a number of French food clusters to learn about their current projects and areas of interest and how we can collaborate internationally to deliver some exciting projects for the food and agriculture industries in Wales.
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