R+D+I Collaborative Projects

The Meating Plants Project

The Meating Plants Project is financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF and Huercasa) is participating in the initiative following a call for proposals from the ICE (the Institute for Business Competitiveness) of the Autonomous Government of Castilla y León. In addition to Huercasa, the CARTIF and ITAGRA technology centres and Campofrío are also taking part in the project.

The aim of this project is to explore new plant-based protein sources, primarily native legume species from the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León, which, combined with agri-food by-products and damaged vegetables and the use of technologies such as extrusion and texturisation, make it possible to produce an  innovative alternative product with nutritional, functional and organoleptic properties similar to those of meat products.

The project also seeks to increase each organisation’s knowledge of raw materials, processes and products, so that they can use this knowledge to create new plant-based meat substitutes and to obtain clean-label, additive-free products that help to reduce food waste in the interests of a circular economy.

OBJECTIVES

ACTIONS

The planned activities are divided into four phases:

Phase 1:

Selection and evaluation of raw materials for the production of meat alternatives.

Phase 2:

Application of technological processes to the formulations generated from the selected raw materials.

Phase 3: 

Analysis of the conversion of the proteins used in the formulations, the quality of the products obtained and the functionality of the ingredients.

Phase 4: 

Prototyping of market-oriented products.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES

The CIBENA Project

CIBENA is led by Siro Aguilar, a Siro Group company, with the participation of HUERCASA, Dacsa, Epsa, Fruselva, Grupo BC, Interal and Sakata. In addition to this consortium, six public research organisations (AINIA, IATA, ITACYL, CNTA, ITAGRA and IMIDA) and other external collaborators are also involved in the project.

The CIBENA Project addresses the value chain to provide superfoods that are attainable in both form and price. To this end, the participants are taking a multi-factorial approach that covers all aspects of food production, from cultivation to its use in other foods that are made available to consumers.

In this context, a superfood is any food that naturally contains a very high density of nutrients and other healthy properties. They are therefore concentrated sources of nutrients and other ingredients (such as antioxidants) that are needed for the body to function properly.

To achieve the overall objective of the project, a consortium representing the entire food production value chain has been formed to pinpoint more precisely what consumers expect and how to develop and design products based on superfoods. Using ancient grains, pulses and vegetables, the aim is to bring to market a range of products that fall under such categories as cereal derivatives, 4th and 5th range vegetable foods, ready meals and milkshakes, juices, purées and smoothies.

One of the main research activities of the project focuses on the sensory properties of this type of food. In particular, flavours, aromas and textures need to be studied and developed to ensure that this type of product is widely accepted..

Huercasa is participating in the CIBENA Project to Improve the Value Chain in the Production of Superfoods which is financed by the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) as part of the Strategic Programme for National Business Research Consortia (CIEN). The aim of the CIEN programme is to promote public-private cooperation and encourage planned research in future strategic areas of international scope. This project has a total budget of more than seven million euros and is scheduled to run for three years.

The LIFE Algaecan Project

Huercasa is participating in the ALGAECAN project which is financed by the EC through the LIFE programme, a financial instrument of the EU to promote environmental demonstration projects.

The project focuses on the use of heterotrophic microalgae to treat wastewater.

Heterotrophic microalgae require organic compounds for nutrition and grow in the absence of light. They have great potential to remove organic carbon and various types of nitrogen and phosphorus compounds from wastewater, which they use as a source of carbon and energy without the need for sunlight.

The project consortium consists of the CARTIF Technology Centre (as coordinator), HUERCASA (Spain), the University of Athens (Greece), the AlgEn Technology Centre (Slovenia) and VIPÎ (Slovenia).

The objective of the ALGAECAN project is to develop a plant in which to demonstrate a model for the sustainable treatment of wastewater from the fruit and vegetable processing industry through the profitable cultivation of heterotrophic microalgae. These microalgae will then be used as a raw material for the production of biofertilisers, animal feed, etc.

To achieve this objective, the project consortium will design and develop a prototype plant, powered by renewable energy, specifically solar energy combined with biomass, in order to minimise the carbon footprint and operating costs. This plant will be installed in two demonstration units for a period of six months. One of these units will be located at HUERCASA’s facilities in Segovia (Spain) and the other at VIPÎ’s facilities in Slovenia.

The technology developed in this project will make it possible, on the one hand, to reduce the cost of processing fruit and vegetables and, on the other, to eliminate the environmental impact associated with the generation of waste in the form of sludge, as in traditional aerobic treatment systems, which is usually deposited in landfill sites. This development will also make it possible to obtain high quality effluents that can be reused for irrigation or cleaning or discharged into watercourses.

The ultimate aim of the project is to be able to replicate its results elsewhere.