Finally, the moment was there, FCH went on a PhD trip again! Three years ago, we planned to fly over the world and travel to a destination outside of Europe, preferably to South Korea. Our plan was to visit companies such as Samsung and CJ, showing the high-speed development and modern side of South Korea. Although the world became smaller and smaller this century, Covid-19 made us realise that the possibility of travelling, and meeting colleagues and encountering new people are things that cannot be taken for granted. Planning a trip far away was impossible with the unpredictability of Covid-19. Therefore, we are very grateful that this trip to the Netherlands could actually take place!
In the week of the 18th of October 2021, the PhD candidates of the laboratory of Food Chemistry went on a study trip to the Northern parts of the Netherlands. Together with professor Jean-Paul Vincken and Dr. Pieter Wierenga, the PhDs visited food companies, research institutes, and universities, to explore, gain knowledge and meet colleagues scientists in food science. All visits had an excellent scientific program and sparked many discussions. A typical visit consisted of scientific presentations by the host and the visiting group (FCH), accompanied with a lab tour, food tasting, and a poster session.
The first stop of this trip was Ruitenberg Ingrediens in Twello. At Ruitenberg knowledge and ingredients are brought together in creative solutions. The PhDs got a real hands-on introduction in the different specializations at Ruitenberg, including production of liquid smoke, evaluations of new plant based products, and printing designs on food products. Before the next visit, the PhDs visited Dutch Venice, or Giethoorn, where the day was closed with a barbecue. The next stop was Ten Kate Vetten, a company that produces sustainable animal fats and proteins for producers of food and animal feed, for the oleochemical industry, and for use in a range of consumer products. Here, a guided tour in the production plant was given, as well as knowledge was exchanged through presentations. The next location was Kikkoman; the world leading company of Japanese soy sauce. We were welcomed with a lunch, after which the PhDs got a factory tour where the intricate production process of soy sauce was explained. Additionally, both Kikkoman and FCH presented their work. The next stop was Groningen, where FCH and Rijksuniversiteit Groningen collaborated and organized a symposium. At De Biotoop in Haren, a creative breeding ground where people live, work, and create, many inspiring presentations were given, as well as a poster session was held. Royal Avebe was the next company to visit; part of the PhDs went to the innovation center, where an exciting escape room needed to be solved, whereas the other PhDs visited the production plant. Royal Avebe is an ingredient supplier, that gets the most out of potato as raw product. On Thursday afternoon research institute Wetsus, the European center of excellence for sustainable water technology, was visited in Leeuwarden. Here, a symposium session with presentations from PhD candidates of Wetsus and FCH was held, followed by a tour in the laboratory facilities of Wetsus. It was insightful to see the experimental set-ups that were built by the Wetsus PhD candidates and staff! The day was ended with networking and drinks. Bunge Loders Croklaan was the last company that was visited. This oils and fat company specializes in specialty lipid solutions that meet the dietary needs and trends of consumers. We were welcomed with an introductory presentation about Bunge, after which FCH had the opportunity to present their lipid research. After a nice lunch, we left to visit de Zaanse Schans, before closing the wonderful week with a closing pizza-dinner.
Even though we stayed close to home for the PhD trip of 2021 we exchanged knowledge with internationally renowned food companies and universities. To be able to go on a trip with all PhD candidates was an accomplishment and especially for the PhD candidates that started with their research during the Covid-19 era, this trip gave a first opportunity to really meet the other PhD-candidates in an external setting and to present to an audience that was physically present.