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Increased value of convenience foods by enrichment with marine based raw materials: A new EU funded collaborative project –  “EnRichMar” will explore the possibilities

EnRichMar is a new EU FP7 SME project with the main aim to increase the value of convenience food by adding functional ingredients, produced from underutilised marine based raw materials and by-products from fish processing, with confirmed bioavailability. The focus will be placed on ingredients such as fish oil powder and seaweed extracts which may enhance positive health effects and stability, enhance flavour and consequently contribute to salt reduction to meet market demand.

Recent process improvements have created new possibilities for the use of marine based ingredients in functional foods. Consumers increasingly tend to favour functional foods as means to improve their health or avoid diseases. The market for these types of products is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. EnRichMar will identify specific consumer segments interested in enriched products and obtain knowledge on what kind of information to provide consumers with to support the product launch and sales.

SeaMynd_3_i_nedri_rodweed extracts from certain brown algae species, e.g. Fucus vesiculosus, have superior antioxidant activities in addition to other unique properties (e.g. anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic activities) which make them highly attractive for use in various food systems. Due to the strong market demand and very positive preliminary tests it is believed that seaweed extracts can be highly competitive on the market and find various uses in food. A unique new omega powder (1 LifeActive powder) is new on the market with the ability to both regulate and maintain the body’s omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid balance while simultaneously safeguarding the daily need for omega-3 from fish and protective biological antioxidants from olives (polyphenols). By adding the omega powder to lean fish products, the products will acquire the requested properties of fatty fish.  By adding the omega powder to other foods like dairy and cereals possibilities will open up for broader categories of convenience food for targeted consumers. Product enriched with these novel marine-based ingredients will be developed within the EnRichMar, and their sensory characteristics and stability verified. The functional properties of the enriched products will be studied via dietary intervention to collect information on the effect of consuming food enriched with the omega powder on mental health and cognition and foods enriched with seaweed extract on inflammatory and oxidative stress markers as well as anti-diabetic effects.

The EnRichMar project was conceived by a group of European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), from producers of convenience seafood dishes, cereal and dairy products, omega and seaweed ingredients. The SME’s will gain research input and knowledge from the research and technological development partners (RTDs) to strengthen their market position. The competitiveness of the SME´s will increase in the growing markets of foods with bioactive compounds. The verification of health effect of consumption of enriched food is of high importance to the ingredient and the food producing companies in EnRichMar. This knowledge will also benefit European citizens and is of interest for health authorities. The results are also relevant to the European fishing industry in general because of the increased value of the by-products and underutilised marine based resources. The results can create new market opportunities for producers of bioactive marine based products such as seaweed and fish oil products as ingredients in functional and in convenience foods in general.

Grimur kokkur (www.grimurkokkur.is) is an Icelandic SME producing a range of convenience seafood products.  They are looking for healthy products, with wider application.

Ruislandia (www.ruislandia.fi) is a Finnish SME producing mainly organic and healthy bakery food and snack products for the Finnish market. The company is opening export market and are looking for new health enhancing ingredients.

Den Eelder (www.deneelder.nl) is a Dutch SME, and a family business producing daily fresh dairy products from their own farm and are looking into possibilities of enriching products with new health enhancing ingredients.

Marinox (www.marinox.is) is an Icelandic SME, a young company based on extensive research of bioactive compounds in Icelandic seaweed. The company’s aim is to utilize in sustainable way the bioactive compounds of brown seaweed. They are seeking new opportunities for their seaweed extracts as functional ingredients in food.

BioActive Foods AS (www.1life63.com) is a Norwegian SME which has developed a powder (1LifeActive powder) containing a combination of biologically active antioxidants from olives and an adequate daily dose of omega-3 from fish, aimed for use as an ingredient in different food applications.

The research expertise for the project will come from four European centres of excellence:

Matis (www.matis.is) is an Icelandic Food and Biotech R&D organisation that services the food, fisheries and aquaculture industries. Matis focuses on innovation in food biotechnology, food safety and quality. Matis is the EnRichMar project coordinator.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (www.vtt.fi) is a globally networked multi technological applied research organization. Among various other research activities, VTT has a long expertise in flavour and texture design e.g. by applying novel bioprocessing techniques. VTT’s main interests in this project lay in producing palatable prototypes of enriched cereal foods, and gaining reliable knowledge on consumers for SMEs.

TNO (www.tno.nl) is an independent research organization in the Netherlands. TNO develops knowledge for industrial application, to create new products, help companies innovate, to find creative answers to questions posed by society.

University of Milan (www.unimi.it) and the Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences coordinates and organizes research activities in the several areas, e.g. of foods, nutrients and biological compounds, metabolism, toxic and adverse reactions, evaluated in vivo and in vitro, implementation of experimental, clinical, and epidemiological experimentations, and of innovative models for the study of molecules with potential pharmacological activities.

For more information on the project please contact: kolbrun@matis.is or linda.saga@1life63.com

This project has received funding from the European Seventh Framework Program managed by REA – Research Executive Agency http://ec.europa.eu/research/rea FP/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 606023