Our focus in this area lies on the continuous optimisation of harvested fruits across the entire value chain. We achieve
this goal through the development and improvement of new and existing technologies as well as the use of innovative
Our research activities respond to customers’ needs, emerging trends and corresponding potential new lines of business.
Fruits – as whole fruits, sauces or preparations – are primarily used in dairy products, ice cream and baked such as homogenisation, pasteurisation, extrusion,
coating, aseptic filling etc., we are able to develop and implement projects with close attention to practical requirements and conditions.
We provide year-round support to our international partners in fruit facilities with state-of-the-art analytic methods and the latest molecular-biological application technologies.
HOW WE WORK
As a global R&D team we always strive to cooperate closely with our colleagues at the individual plants. To be able to fulfil our vision and develop "consumer relevant informations" we heavily rely on the input of those people who deal with our business partners day in day out, namely local developer teams. This results in an international network, which influences the progress of our projects extremely dynamically. Projects that are started at the ARIC are of great interest to the global AGRANA Fruit departments (Marketing, Process & Production, Sales) right from the start.
Another focus in our research strategy is on collaborating with industrial partners and research institutes. In particular, with experimental developments in cooperation projects with SME and international dairies, food corporations and plant manufacturers too, it is possible for us develop outstanding products for our joint client, the end consumer.
Research cooperation with universities lays the foundation for process and system improvements within our plants. We also are involved in smaller university projects in determining the origin of our raw materials using isotope analysis and accurately identifying different strawberry varieties using DNA fingerprints.
Through our network, we are, of course, also a contact or mediation partner for all kinds of troubleshooting enquiries. For these problem-solving tasks we start small projects where laboratory tests can already produce the initial solutions on the one hand and on the other hand we act as a knowledge centre where experts from other departments and plants can take part in the problem-solving process.
FOCUS ON FRUIT QUALITY
One research focus is certainly on the quality improvement of our most important raw material, the fruit. The fruit that is found most frequently in yoghurt is strawberry. Research work is being done together with universities that deals with the development of new varieties. Here the focus is on varieties with a strong flavour, be it new cultivations or known varieties that have never made it to industrial cultivation for various reasons. Here is a brief summary of some strawberry varieties.
Together with our plants in Morocco and Mexico we are working on strategies to be able to harvest the best possible strawberry quality in the field. Selecting the right variety, the harvesting time and the first processing steps already influence the quality of the fruit in the end product. In other words: the more carefully the strawberries are harvested and processed in our 1st transformation plants, i.e. from the time of fresh strawberries to frozen fruit, the more taste, colour and bite the consumer will enjoy in the end product.
Quality Driven Process Design
FROM THE FIELD TO FROZEN PRODUCT
The pretreatment of strawberries in our 1st transformation plant describes processes from delivery and temporary storage, sorting to the washing stage, to cutting and freezing to packaging. During the washing process not only are any foreign bodies removed mechanically but the bacterial load on the fruit is also reduced. We mainly place our project focuses here on the decontamination stage to even satisfy our high food safety standards in one of the very early stages of fruit processing. New physical as well as chemical methods for surface decontamination are tested out here and improved so that flawless raw material is used in our 2nd transformation plant.
Fruit preparations are usually produced from frozen fruits in the 2nd transformation plant. The recipes are made of fruit, sugar, water, stabilisers and acid regulators. Colouring and flavours can be added, if necessary. Our innovations involve the introduction of new raw materials at the same time as adapting existing production processes. It's not about fine tuning the flavour and colour here, which is done by local product developers, but feasibility studies, industrial first attempts and developing so-called "backbone" recipes and production guidelines, which are used globally with minor adjustments.
One focus is on further developing our production facilities in future. For this, the current plants are listed according to their performance in terms of product quality and productivity, models are calculated and new components are tested. The more gentle pasteurising of fruit will then be achievable with a combination of system design and process parameters without putting food safety at risk.
R&D service provider
As the R&D service provider for the AGRANA Fruit division, part of our projects are closely linked to the division's strategy. Keywords like "integrated developments" and "market-driven key trends" define the sequence of our activities. Our innovation projects follow a global innovation strategy which was drawn up in close cooperation with the "Global Marketing and Innovation" department. Together with the starch and sugar technology working groups synergy effects result with cross-divisional research priorities, such as: nutritional physiology, sweeteners and flavouring, microbiology, product quality and safety and clean label and organic products.