Food Processing

We develop pioneering and economically relevant process and product concepts, tailored in interdisciplinary cooperation, to meet new and changing consumer demands.

The specialism unites specialists with extensive expertise in food engineering, food science, microbiology and biotechnology. We research and develop cutting-edge process technologies and new process and product concepts, and optimise existing processes.

Services

We can offer you various forms of cooperation. Research and development projects can be commissioned and funded directly, or they can be state-financed (Innosuisse). Depending on the project, we collaborate with other BFH institutes, selected external partners or in the context of dissertations with universities.

Our services in detail:

  • Redevelopment and optimisation of processing operations, product concepts and nutritional profiles, across disciplines where appropriate – from vision to concrete process engineering or product concept
  • Construction of prototypes in collaboration with other BFH institutes or selected external partners
  • Critical point analysis of existing processes
  • Support for and advice on intra-industry projects
  • Technology hall for small-scale trials
  • Contract analysis, primarily development of analytical methods not available commercially

Expertise

We focus on (a) food processing technology/process technologies and materials sciences, (b) food fermentation, (c) protein-based foods, (d) food waste reduction and (e) nutrition. We plug any gaps in our expertise for a specific project by collaborating within the BFH (for example, the Institute for Printing Technology) as well as with external partners.

Our expertise in detail:

  • Individualisation of foods, principally in the context of decentralised manufacture/modification, focussing on speed of production
  • 3D construction of foods through multiphase structuring (‘food 3D’) to produce added sensory, functional or nutritional value, including through 3D printing applications or hybrid production processes
  • Optimisation and self regulation of production processes/machinery/robots
  • Reduction of secondary streams through upcycling and intelligent integration in products
  • Structuring of foods at micro, meso and macro levels, for example for meat-like structures
  • Vegetarian and vegan products (process and product concepts)
  • Extraction, fractionation, functionalisation of materials from a wide range of sources (animal, plant-based), especially of proteins and their by-products such as fats/oils
  • Fermentation technology, especially for fruit, vegetables and secondary streams, for sensory enhancement or to obtain techno-functional components for foods
  • Nutritional evaluation and optimisation (composition, calorie content, reducing sugar, salt etc., optimising fat quality, addition of micronutrients, digestibility) of foods, optimising process management
  • ‘Clean labelling’ strategies to increase consumer acceptance
  • Hygiene, food safety, food microbiology, food legislation

Infrastructure

Technology hall/ test centre

We have at our disposal a superbly equipped complex occupying around 550 square metres, which provides every facility especially for processing fluids but also powders. There are annual project-related upgrades to the machinery, so that we can respond to project-specific requirements and industry developments.

Analysis laboratories

We have several laboratories available, especially to provide instrumental support to process and product developments. The focus is on optical, physical analysis as well as instrumental analysis of separation methods. We can also employ basic equipment for wet chemical analysis.

3D micro-extrusion laboratory

3D micro-extrusion procedures (‘3D printing’) based on fused deposition modelling processes allow not only rapid prototyping for machine components but also the development of processes and product concepts for food (seven systems in all). From early 2019 a continuously working system for the manufacture of food product samples in larger numbers will be available.

Projects

Below is a short, by no means exhaustive selection of projects:

3D food printing

Technology-driven research in food is concerned increasingly with 3D printing techniques, in order to be able to manufacture individualisable products. The advantage of manufacturing single items is clear. However, the concept also has disadvantages, mainly in terms of production speed. At present we are focussing on (a) the development of new, disruptive product concepts which offer added value compared with traditional processes, (b) the development of hybrid production procedures to increase speed and (c) the development of masses based on materials science.

Smart supermarket

The aim of the interdisciplinary project is to develop concepts for decentralised digital food manufacture at point of sale, in which the integration of humans and machines will be key. As well as communication strategies we are developing various complex process chains for each of two application scenarios and are evaluating them by means of a benefit analysis.

Whey utilisation

The amount of whey produced in Switzerland for human consumption can be expanded significantly. The biggest obstacle is the diversity of whey, which can lead to incalculable economic risks in terms of the process behaviour. In this project we are aiming to substantially increase our knowledge of whey variety by looking into the impacts of their compositions on processes and product characteristics in more detail.

FermPlant

In the FermPlant project we are devising fermentation strategies for vegetables, in order to enhance their nutritional and sensory quality. This aims to help to boost the consumption of vegetables in Switzerland. By optimising the fermentation conditions (temperature/time profiles) and with the targeted use of appropriate bacterial strains (starter cultures) we are hoping to produce a mild acidification during the fermentation of vegetables, which consumers find more acceptable. In a second part we are attempting to enrich fermented vegetables with microbially produced vitamin B12 through the combined use of starter cultures – particularly in terms of production speed. This would provide a natural alternative to synthetic supplementation.

Healthy? Delicious!

The menuCH study showed that the proportion of people who consume less than one portion of fruit or vegetables per day is highest among 18 to 34-year-olds, at 19 per cent. Other studies have shown that the choice of meals containing healthy foods can be encouraged in cafeterias with descriptive names and suitable information. In this project we are investigating the positive influence upon consumer choices of various names for or descriptions of meal options containing vegetables in community catering.

Team