For the period 2017-2020 the activities of the thematic program HealthFood are directed towards an eco-responsible production over the whole agro-food chain including the avoidance of waste and the valorization of by-products of food production and transformation.
Projects should aim to support an environmental-friendly, safe and healthy food production, to reduce, to avoid and to valorize by-products of food production and transformation and to develop or improve material and system for active, intelligent, sure or biodegradable packaging.
Sustainability and eco-responsibility are consumer expectations towards food production. By combining and fostering of the knowledge existing at the diverse schools of HES-SO, we will be able to create a center of competence which will be recognized on national and international level.
Looking at current activities in the agri-food domain in Europe, waste has been often a topic which was not easy to address. In June, the Federal Council has launched a new National Research Program (NRP 73) on ways of achieving a sustainable economy. This NRP 73 is expected to contribute significantly to a more sustainable economy and greater resource security, resulting in increased competitiveness for the Swiss economy and more prosperity for the population. This program will run for five years and is budgeted at CHF 20 million. At the moment it would be challenging, but maybe we could at least contribute to this NRP.
The evolved program will also impact directly on Swiss companies by working for solutions for waste avoidance and by-product valorization. For most of the food producing and processing companies’ environmental aspects are an important issue and often they have an environmental certificate (ISO-14001). This is the case for Florin SA in Muttenz, a company which is interested to contribute to the evolved HealthFood program.
One of the proposed toolboxes will allow the program to benefit of metagenomics applied to agricultural and food productions. In agriculture this tool will be helpful to qualify environment-friendly cultural practices, validate healthy productions. In food production this will allow the researchers to strengthen their projects by examining altering microbiomes, establishing the evolution of the microbial flora during the conservation process, consequently increasing the products shelf life and assessing the impact of modification of recipes and packaging.
An objective for the new period is also to strengthen the valorization of the overall programs and the individual projects. Projects will be evaluated on basis of measurable indicators like number of publications in scientific and popular journals, generation of new projects and press releases. One pertinent objective is to increase the visibility of the program and of the HES-SO.