R+D+i COLLABORATION PROJECTS
Meating Plants Project
Huercasa is a participant in the Meating Plants project, an initiative funded by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), in response to a call from the ICE (Institute for Business Competitiveness) of the Junta de Castilla y León. Participating in the initiative alongside Huercasa are the Technological centres CARTIF and ITAGRA as well as the company Campofrío.
This initiative aims to explore new plant-based protein sources, primarily native legume species from the Community of Castilla y León, which, together with the incorporation of by-products or discarded vegetables and the use of technologies such as extrusion and texturization, make it possible to produce an innovative alternative product with nutritional, functional and organoleptic characteristics similar to meat products.
The objective is also to increase each entity's knowledge of raw materials, processes, and products in order to add value to them for the creation of new foods similar to meat products, as well as to obtain clean label, additive-free products that contribute to the reduction of food waste for the benefit of a Circular Economy.
- Utilising alternative regional legumes and encouraging the growth of regional variations.
- Establishing a correlation between legume growing conditions and the physicochemical, nutritional, and functional characteristics of texturized products.
- Valorizing by-products and vegetable-plant waste.
- Investigating the impact of extrusion and texturization on the transformation of proteins. Obtaining a range of texturized products.
The planned activities will be addressed in four phases:
- Phase 1: the raw materials for obtaining meat substitutes will be selected and evaluated.
- Phase 2: technological processes will be applied to the formulations derived from the selected raw materials.
- Phase 3: the transformations in the proteins used in the formulations, the quality of the products obtained and the functionality of the ingredients will be analysed.
- Phase 4: permits the prototyping of market-oriented products.
- Enhance understanding of the impact of extrusion and texturization technologies on various plant-based raw materials.
- Create innovative products from plant-based protein isolates that have similar nutritional, physicochemical, and sensory properties to meat products.
- Determine and ascertain the optimal conditions for producing meat substitutes from plant-based protein.
- Obtain a flowchart detailing all the production process specifications.
- Provide a selection of vegetarian and/or vegetarian plus meat products.
CIBENA is led by Siro Aguilar of the Siro Group and involves the companies HUERCASA, Dacsa, Epsa, Fruselva, Grupo BC, Interal and Sakata. Six public research organisations are also involved in the project (AINIA, IATA, ITACYL, CNTA, ITAGRA and IMIDA), as well as other external collaborators.
Ehe CIBENA Project operates within the value chain to provide accessible and affordable superfoods. With this in mind, the project takes a multifaceted approach that covers all aspects of food production from cultivation to use in other foods offered to consumers.
In this context, a superfood is considered to be any food that naturally contains a very high level of nutrients and healthy properties. These foods are concentrated sources of nutrients and other ingredients (such as antioxidants) that are needed to help the body function properly.
To obtain the general objective of the project, a consortium has been set up that represents the entire food production value chain in order to better determine what consumers want and how to approach and design products based on superfoods. The aim is to bring to market a range of products that include ancient grains, pulses and vegetables that will be sold within the cereal derivatives, convenience and ready-to-eat vegetables, pre-prepared meals and shakes, juices, purées and smoothies categories.
One of the main research angles of this project deals with the sensory properties of these types of foods. In particular, it will be necessary to study and develop flavours, aromas and textures that will help these types of products be widely accepted.
LIFE Algaecan Project
Huercasa is involved in the ALGAECAN project, financed by the EC via the LIFE programme, which is a financial instrument used by the EU to support environmental demonstration projects.
Heterotrophic microalgae require organic compounds for nutrition and grow in the absence of light. They have great potential with respect to removing organic carbon and various types of nitrogen and phosphorous compounds from wastewater, which they use as a source of carbon and energy without the need for sunlight.
The aim of the ALGAECAN project is to develop a plant to demonstrate a model for sustainably treating the wastewater generated by the fruit and vegetable processing industry through the profitable cultivation of heterotrophic microalgae. Subsequently, these microalgae serve as a raw material for the production of biofertilizers, animal feed, etc.
To achieve this, the project consortium will design and build a plant prototype, which will be fuelled using renewable energy (specifically, solar and biomass energy) in order to minimise the carbon footprint and costs of the operation. 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 will be housed in the facilities of the company VIPÎ in Slovenia.
The technology developed under this project will help cut the cost of processing fruit and vegetables and reduce the environmental impact of the waste slurry generated by traditional aerobic treatment systems, which is usually taken to landfill. Using this technology, it will also be possible to obtain high quality effluent that can be reused for irrigation or cleaning purposes, or discharged directly into waterways.
Ultimately, the project aims to replicate its results in other locations.
The project consortium comprises the CARTIF Technology Centre (as coordinator), HUERCASA (Spain), the University of Athens (Greece), the AlgEn Technology Centre (Slovenia) and VIPÎ (Slovenia).