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Brazilian by-products transformed into food

When we eat a cashew nut, we might not be aware of the fact that the ‘nut’ it is just a small part of the cashew fruit. When we buy coconut water, we may not think about what happened to the rest of the coconut. Many crops, especially fruits, go partly to waste. In cooperation with Brazilian researchers, researchers from Aarhus University will look at the possibilities for turning by-products into innovative food products.

2020.02.11 | Lise Bundgaard

Photo: Marianne Hammershøj.


There are many more examples of crops and in particular fruits which are not yet used for human food consumption, or products processed where only part of it goes into food. The rest is a by-product or side-stream, or a yet under-used food potential. In a new network project, Waste-to-Value, researchers from the MAPP Centre and the Department of Food at the University of Aarhus (AU FOOD), among others, will take up the fight against waste in food production:

- There is a large untapped food potential because many crops never end up on a plate. It is a shame. The UN Sustainable Development Goals require that our food production becomes more efficient so that we can feed a growing population. Therefore, we need to be more innovative in our approach to the use of natural resources, says Jessica Aschemann-Witzel, project manager for Waste-to-Value and professor at the MAPP Centre.

From Aarhus to Amazonas

The network project is led by the MAPP Centre at Aarhus University, and it is a close cooperation with AU FOOD within the framework of the iFOOD Centre (Interdisciplinary Centre for Innovative Food Research) – and with researchers from the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, Embrapa.

- Denmark has an efficient, export-oriented agricultural sector and several innovative, globally oriented companies in food, food ingredients and life sciences. Brazil is an emerging country with a fast-growing population and a growing demand for better utilization of high-quality food production. It is also an export-oriented agricultural country with rich natural resources. It is therefore obvious, why we should work together, says Marianne Hammershøj and continues:

- In Brazil, many tropical fruits are produced and many of them are used only partially and locally, but many are unknown outside of South America, and they have qualities that make them interesting in terms of creating new, innovative foods – also for export. At best, this can support the sustainable management of natural resources.

From waste to dessert

The coconut is an example of a crop with great, untapped potential:

- Coconut water has entered the Danish market in recent years, and it is a very popular beverage in Brazil, but right now, the rest of the coconut is a by-product. The by-products from the production of coconut water can be processed into new food products. For example, at Embrapa work has been done on developing a coconut sorbet based on the green part of the coconut, says Marianne Hammershøj.

At the end of 2019, researchers from AU FOOD and the MAPP Centre visited Brazilian partners to attend a workshop, discuss possible studies and project applications. The researchers from Embrapa will visit Aarhus University in 2020.


Professor Jessica Aschemann-Witzel
Department of Management - MAPP Centre
E-mail: jeaw@mgmt.au.dk
Phone: +45 93508332

Associate professor Marianne Hammershøj
Department of Food – Food Chemistry and Technology
E-mail: marianne.hammershoj@food.au.dk
Phone: +45 22169259

The project  is funded by the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education as an International Network Programme project, running from 2019-2020 

Read more about the project at the website of the MAPP Centre here and the iFOOD website here.  . See Embrapa’s website here.

DCA, Food