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€1.4 million for research into flavour in food

The flavour of foodstuffs can be predicted by measuring the dynamic of their chemical components. Researchers, including Thomas Hankemeijer, will receive a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for research in this area. They will work with DSM and Unilever.

Robert Hall from Wageningen University & Research Centre and Age Smilde from the University of Amsterdam received the Technology Area (TA) prize along with Hankemeijer. A third of the financing was provided by the companies DSM and Unilever; two-thirds of the funding comes from the NWO Chemical Sciences’ Innovation Fund for Chemistry.

Tasting through Measuring

The programme ‘Proeven door Meten’ (Tasting through Measuring) was set up to develop and optimise more rational formulas for foodstuffs, a process which until now has been largely trial and error. Flavour and smell, two of the most important aspects of food, depend on the combination of many chemical components. An understanding of the relationships between chemistry, flavour and smell will lead to new food products with more intense flavour experiences.

Along with ingredient producer DSM, food producer Unilever, three doctoral students, a post-doc and two technicians, the researchers will study the complex matrix of certain foodstuffs. They will focus not only on ‘good’ taste and smell molecules, but also on ‘bad’ ones, for example those which produce so-called ‘off flavours’ as a result of substandard preservation.

The aim is to predict the dynamic of the flavour profile of foodstuffs by measuring carefully selected chemical components.

About TA

TA is one of the public-private collaborations funded through the NWO Chemical Sciences’ Innovation Fund for Chemistry. A TA is intended for public-private collaboration between at least two businesses and at least two knowledge institutions. The collective demand from various businesses is investigated by various research organisations. One-third of TA’s funding comes from business, and the remaining two-thirds comes from the NWO. The minimum project size is worth €750,000 (€250,000 total business financing plus €500,000 from the NWO), and the maximum is €1,500,000. Topics which come under the roadmaps of the Top Sector for Chemistry are eligible to be considered for funding.