Promoting quality and product innovation in foods

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The food market in Switzerland is largely saturated, and exposed to increasing cost pressure. This represents a challenge not only to industrial businesses, but also in particular to commercial processing facilities as well as to agricultural production. In this climate, many businesses can achieve success if they position themselves in market niches that strengthen innovation and can stand out from the competition in market segments with high quality standards. In addition, they must increase their productivity by e.g. minimising food loss and processing by-products.

Working together with the various industries and with a systemic approach, Agroscope aims to use its potential to improve products and production processes from the cultivation stage to the market-ready product, to enhance the competitiveness of selected value chains over the long term, and to support the creation of new value chains. The growing importance of an individually tailored diet for human health as well as additional food trends lead to new market niches which it behoves us to recognise and fill.

Here, the focus is on commercial enterprises which usually do not maintain any research and development departments of their own, and which are dependent upon public support, together with the farms supplying agricultural raw materials.   

Agroscope also aims to develop scientific bases for providing healthy food for the population from sustainable production, based on new findings from interactions between genetics, epigenetics, the environment and diet, as well as on an improved understanding of the factors influencing food choice.

Scientific Objectives and Research Questions

Agroscope hopes to make a decisive contribution to answering the following research questions:

  1. Using an all-inclusive approach, how can we promote the comparative strengths of Swiss products in terms of process engineering and crop technology so as to defend an existing or achieve a new quality leadership position, or reinforce differentiation from the competition?
  2. What market niches are created by the growing fragmentation of the food market, and how can Agroscope help Swiss SMEs to occupy these niches?
  3. What influence do natural foods have on known and new biomarkers for human health?
  4. What influence do fermented foods have on the human metabolism and microbiome?
  5. How can the population’s diet be improved, based on new findings regarding the interactions between genetics, epigenetics, the environment and diet, as well as on a better understanding of the factors influencing food choice?
  6. How can productivity be increased by minimising food loss and further processing of by-products?

The research questions must be dealt with in such a way as to enable the ideas of the different stakeholders along the value chain (food innovation network) to be utilised, and to lead to practical knowledge (rapid implementation in practice) and scientific knowledge (publications in prestigious journals).