Food and Health Network Making Science work for the Food Industry Institute of Food Research

Co-Product Exploitation Cluster


In this cluster we are contributing to new methods of analysing food processing waste and the development of novel, economically feasible methods of upgrading waste to increase its value.

Waste from food processing
Waste from food processing - a common sight


We are combining the practical experience of the Industrial Cluster members with the fundamental research knowledge of IFR and collaborating centres of excellence to give new insights allowing:

  • Identification of economically interesting quantities of materials containing accessible and valuable components

  • Setting up of guidelines for the identification of useful components and the quantities available

  • Identification of areas of particular interest and the availability of grant funding (environmental impact)

environmental issues affect us all
Environmental issues affect us all
outer scales of onion waste
Dry outer scales of onion waste and a coloured fibre product - a source of quercitin and calcium oxalate

Who Should Join?

Although the results will be widely applicable, they are likely to be of particular interest to producers of plant based materials i.e. fruit, vegetables, cereals, either as the raw material or related derivatives.

The Cluster will be of particular interest to managers wishing to reduce their waste disposal costs (particularly in the light of recent and forthcoming legislation) or even to turn a waste stream into an income stream.

IFR Skill Base Underlying the Cluster

Many of the skills underlying this Cluster have derived from IFR's long experience of understanding the structural aspects of plants, and the way in which these affect quality attributes such as texture.

The knowledge gained from these studies now enables us to develop novel means (physical, chemical and biochemical) to recover potentially useful components from food industry waste.

Molecular Structure of Plant Species

  • Understanding the fundamental building blocks and the chemicals in them

Multidisciplinary Approaches

  • Integrated science to understand how to exploit the interactions between the building blocks

  • Elucidating the nature of the components responsible for cell adhesion

  • Understanding molecular interactions (e.g. protein:protein, enzyme:substrate)

white fleshy scales of onion waste
White fleshy scales of onion waste - a source of instant thickening agents
chinese water chestnut
Chinese water chestnut single cell showing the location of ferulic acid components responsible for maintenance of cell adhesion
apple core
Many components of produce are regarded as waste - how can we mitigate the costs and environmental impact?

Fractionation and Extraction of High Value Products

  • We have already demonstrated this by producing a new thickener from onion waste, and by extracting flavours and nutritionally significant phytochemicals from alliums and cereals.

Access to Skills for Assessment of Novel Products

  • IFR has the skills to assess the potential of novel products in terms of food safety and nutritional value

Cluster Events

The Cluster will hold a series of one-day meetings and workshops designed to explore and address scientific and technical issues of concern to the industry.

The Clusters will be a true partnership between scientists and Industry Professionals, and so the details and topics to be addressed will be dependent on the wishes of the Industrial Cluster members. However, the following suggestions for Cluster focus days give a flavour of what we expect:

  • New Thickeners from Onion Waste ? A Case Study

  • "Anti-Cancer Agents" from Plant Waste? ? The Science Behind the Headlines

  • Whole Waste Utilisation

  • Making the Most of your Wash Water ? Liability or resource?

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