Leap Agri nutrifoods

In Africa, rural communities traditionally prepare meals from indigenous foods like cassava, sorghum and pulses. However, with fast population growth, urbanization, and increasing disposable incomes, consumption of breads (leavened, unleavened, flat and steamed) is increasing. Besides, the price difference between imported wheat flour ($0.87/kg) and locally grown cassava flour ($0.29-0.42/kg) is significant. Breads available to consumers, though tasty, are not nutritionally balanced. This dietary transition has contributed to the rise in noncommunicable diseases. Food manufacturers have a need for functional ingredients from locally available crops to replace wheat in breads and mitigate the effects of wheat replacement on quality. It is beneficial for Africa to reduce the import of expensive wheat flour and replace it e.g. with domestically produced cassava. This gives small holder farmers a domestic market and an increased income in addition to opening new business opportunities along the crop value chain.   In Europe, wheat-based breads have a large share in traditional consumption. However, increased prevalence of coeliac disease, gluten sensitivity and irritable bowel syndrome requires the availability of gluten-free products of good quality. Many of the current glutenfree products are low in dietary fiber, protein and phytochemicals and high in carbohydrates, sugars, fats and food additives. Therefore, nutritious products with high levels of protein and dietary fiber from sustainable sources are of growing importance. For food manufacturers, the main challenge is to design products that meet nutritional demands whilst retaining sensory quality and consumer acceptability.  

The purpose of NUTRIFOODS is to build sustainable climate smart food crops value chain that contributes to ending food and nutrition insecurity and improves livelihoods. The key strategies to achieve this are: use climate-smart crops to develop functional ingredients with properties that allow part or whole replacement of wheat in bread without compromising quality; use markets as key incentivizing driver of value chains; and creating partnerships with private sector to enhance technology uptake and commercialization. This will lead to more food enterprises using functional bread ingredients from climate-smart crops; and thus increased utilization and demand for climate-smart crops. This will create a market for climate smart crops with benefits accruing to small holder farmers.

Specific objectives:

  • Identify consumer needs and key limitations in the supply and market chain of climate-smart food crops (cassava, sorghum and pulses)
  • Develop high quality functional ingredients from climate-smart food crops for use in palatable breads.
  • Use the functional ingredients to develop consumer attractive breads tailored for African and European markets
  • Identify business opportunities in the value chains of climate-smart food crops and nurture SMEs to commercialize the developed technology
  • Inform policy makers and disseminate the developed scientific knowledge for harnessing further exploitation of climate-smart food crops.