BFH Centre for Food Systems
The BFH Centre for Food Systems combines research and development on the issues that are key to healthy, high-quality food production – throughout value chains.
The set of capabilities united at the BFH Centre for Food Systems is unique in Switzerland. The Centre addresses all the current and practically relevant challenges in the food chain. The approach is holistic, encompassing crop production and livestock farming, processing operations and the aspects of consumption and nutrition. The Centre delivers forward-looking solutions in the following issue areas:
- Crop production and livestock farming systems that maintain environmental quality and conserve resources while also being economically viable and socially equitable
- Optimising food processing, developing innovative products, novel production processes
- Analysing consumers' purchasing and nutritional behaviour and deriving targeted measures to improve human health and tackle societal challenges (e.g. food waste reduction)
- Exploring cross-cutting aspects throughout value chains, such as sustainability assessment, knowledge transfer, policies and markets, social change in rural areas, business analyses
The BFH Centre for Food Systems operates within a network of Swiss and international research institutions and sector organisations. It actively links fundamental research with practice in the following fields:
- Agricultural production
- Food processing
- Healthcare and nutrition
- Government agencies and international organisations
The BFH Centre for Food Systems is open at all times to embark upon new projects and ventures with further partners. Please contact the Centre at:
Researchers at the BFH Centre for Food Systems have a wealth of expertise and experience, gathered both within Switzerland and abroad. In addition to their capabilities in agricultural production, processing, consumption and nutrition, they explore numerous cross-cutting aspects. The Centre's holistic, interdisciplinary approach enables it to deliver solutions from one source. Its research teams operate in the following fields:
Crop production and plant breeding: Optimisation of production systems, improvement of the quality of arable crops, fertilisation and plant protection, PCR diagnostics for the detection of plant diseases and pests, inter-farm arable crop rotation systems
Ruminant and forage production systems: Resource-efficient milk production, optimisation of production technology, applied forage cultivation and fodder cropping, extended grassland utilisation
Animal genetics: Analysis of genetic architecture, genome-wide association studies, conservation of genetic diversity in farm animals, breeding value assessment
Livestock care, health and feeding: Feedstuffs, feeding strategies, feeding behaviour, metabolic disorders and udder diseases in dairy cows, animal housing systems and facilities, housing hygiene and climate, meat quality in pigs
further information (ruminants)
further information (pigs)
Food processing: Analysing and improving meat product quality, process and product innovations
further information (meat quality)
further information (process and product innovations)
Consumption: sensory analysis, consumer panels, representative market and consumer surveys, key driver analysis, preference mapping
Nutrition: Nutritional physiology, targeted use of foods and their ingredients, dietary recommendations for particular consumer groups
In addition to the above research teams, experts in the following fields contribute to activities at the BFH Centre for Food Systems:
- Policies, markets and value chains
- Business analysis, innovation management, marketing
- Social change in rural areas
- Knowledge systems and transfer
- Sustainability assessment
- Biodiversity and ecology
Integrated control of pectinolytic bacteria in potato production
Spoilage resulting from bacteria causes significant damage and economic loss in potato production. Researchers at the BFH Centre have detected two new strains of bacteria in Switzerland – and developed a method that allow them to detect and remove contaminated seed stock.
Healthy pork, sustainably produced
Meat production contributes to global warming and over-fertilisation – and can also be a source of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. There is a huge potential for improvement in this area. The research team identifies market-oriented approaches that allow for more resource-efficient production of pork and require fewer antibiotics. The result: better quality meat and happier animals.
Developing distinguishing characteristics of grassland-based milk (Wiesenmilch)
Swiss milk has traditionally enjoyed a good image. It is associated with natural production and healthy products. By creating a special label for grass-based milk (Wiesenmilch – “pasture milk”) IP SUISSE is seeking to systematically promote this image. The project’s objective is to identify distinguishing characteristics which can be attributed to the way the dairy cows are fed and managed. The question is: Are there sustainability indicators or production technology indicators that allow for a clear distinction to be made between “pasture milk” and concentrate-based dairy systems? The ultimate aim is to generate added value from “pasture milk” in domestic and foreign markets.
The cost of a good diet
A good diet is expensive – that's the general perception. However, a broad-based study by the consumer research team shows that a healthy, balanced shopping basket is only slightly more expensive than an unhealthy one. The study has further revealed that individual attitudes to nutrition and animal welfare are the most important determinants of a healthy diet. The places where consumers shop also have a far greater influence on healthy eating than the costs.
Sustainability assessment in agricultural production and value chains
An agricultural operation is sustainable if it is sufficiently profitable, environmentally friendly and offers good living conditions to those who work and live on the farm. With RISE (Response-Inducing Sustainability Evaluation), the research team has developed a method by which the sustainability of agricultural operations can be measured and enhanced in concert with farmers. Designed to be used in agricultural extension and training, RISE has now been applied on well over 1000 farms and on all continents.
Swiss Low Input Genetics
Beside the performance-related traits of Swiss dairy cow breeds, breeding decisions are increasingly being based on functional attributes such as health, fertility or longevity. Working with further partners, a research team at the BFH Centre is elucidating the complex mechanisms involved in the transmission of such attributes. Whole-genome resequencing is the method of choice, allowing more targeted advances in breeding dairy breeds that are adapted to pasture management and have good health. The scientists are also developing a tool that will facilitate the observation and monitoring of genetic diversity.
The BFH Centre for Food Systems delivers services in the following fields:
Research & development
Research projects are prompted by the challenges encountered in practice. Our scientists work closely with key players in the sectors involved. Together, they develop innovative solutions to the questions arising in efforts to achieve sustainable food production.
Services and consulting
Staff at the BFH Centre for Food Systems render a broad range of services. These include:
- Analyses, consultancy, evaluations
- Strategy development and implementation, project management
- -Facilitation and organisation of workshops and other events
Initial training and further education
Our cutting-edge findings are taken up in the training and instruction of Bachelor and Master students, and in our further education services.