Improving resource efficiency in the food industry by using non-conventional intermediate products

Jonkman, Jochem; Castiglioni, Alberto; Akkerman, Renzo; Padt, Albert van der


In the food industry, a wide range of consumer products is produced by blending together intermediate products. These intermediates are often purified extracts from agro-materials. The purification processes guarantee a standard quality and broad applicability, but are resource intensive and lead to the production of low-value byproducts. Non-conventionally produced intermediates could avoid these drawbacks. Hence, a portfolio of intermediates can be sought that satisfies the requirements of the food industry while reducing resource use. After developing a mathematical programming approach for this decision problem, this article quantifies the effect of using non-conventional intermediates while considering production interdependencies and customer requirements. An illustrative case for the processing of legumes shows that mildly refined intermediates can be selected to cover the demand for the majority of considered products. While minimising cost, energy use and water use were reduced by 22% and 37%, respectively. The case results indicate that using fractionation pathways leading to intermediates with lower purity provides opportunities for more resource-efficient production in food industry.