November 2004 No. 1


Introducing the QLIF research project

Advancing research collaboration in organic food and farming

Mediating QLIF research

Organic Eprints – an open archive

EcoWiki – a tool for cooperative work

International organic congress

About the congress

If you want to participate

Evidence on higher vitamin levels in organic food will be presented

Research articles

Underlying Principles in Organic and “Low-Input Food” Processing

New tendencies on the organic food market

QLIF Notes

Identifying challenges and possible solutions for organic processing

The result of Open Call for experiments on dairy management

QLIF-training workshop February, 2005

Underlying Principles in Organic and “Low-Input Food” Processing

- Literature Survey

The first public scientific deliverable within the QLIF project is now available.

Underlying Principles in Organic and “Low-Input Food” Processing – Literature Survey represents the literature survey part of subproject 5 (WP 5.1.1) and is edited by Otto Schmid, Alexander Beck and Ursula Kretzschmar.

The literature survey focuses on the underlying concepts and principles in organic food processing. The survey gives an overview of the development of organic food processing and the regulatory situation. The aim is to provide an introduction and context for the whole Subproject 5.

The study will be the basis of formulating key questions for a broader Delphi Expert survey in Europe as well as for the elaboration of a Code of Practice on organic food processing and proposals for improvement of the EU Regulation 2092/91, which is planned in Workpackage 5.1.

Underlying principles

The literature review shows that a broad range of ideas about the processing of organic food exists. The quite different types of products, different processing standards and marketing concepts reflect this. Some of the principles are basic (e.g. the use of certified organic ingredients, a certified production chain and a minimised use of addivitives), others are shared broadly (e.g. more careful processing methods, naturalness) and some principles are in discussion mainly in the private sector (e.g. environmental management concepts, social requirements, regional focus). The survey exposes that the food processing industry has to respond to the needs of different market stakeholders such as agricultural producers, costumers, the environment and the society.

The survey discusses current practices and challenges in general and within different product groups. The four product groups: organic fruit and vegetables, cereals, milk and meat products are examined and the report summarizes challenges in the presented product groups.

It is concluded that it is critical to decide if specific processing technologies like extrusion technologies, ion exchange technologies, modified atmosphere, and new packaging materials as well as a broad use of enzymes are in line with the concept of organic food. The challenges imposed by the tendency to go towards longer shelf life and higher food safety of products should not be achieved at the expense of e.g. their freshness (e.g. milk). Apparently, there is a lack of guiding principles and related criteria, which are needed to make a decision about such methods.

Consumer perception

The report has a strong emphasis on consumer expectations including nutrition concepts. The consumer perceptions are compared with the identified principles for organic food processing and with actual standards.

The result was that the EU-Regulation 2092/91 covers a number of consumer perceptions such as certification system, traceability, minimal use of additives, labelling concept and the use of organic raw materials. However, a number of other consumer expectations and discussed topics are not fulfilled such as careful processing, freshness, healthy nutrition or fair trade.

The report concludes that it is very important to further investigate perceptions of consumers towards organic food processing. The future development of organic food processing should follow a more “fork to farm” approach, taking consumer expectations better into account but continue to find and apply innovative solutions using natural substances with appropriate technologies an/or less critical additives and processing aids.

Download the publication (PDF)