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CHANCE project presents foods and strategies to enhance nutritional health for people on a low budget

Brussels – 7th July 2014

Key Messages:

  • The CHANCE project has developed affordable, nutritionally enhanced foods: Tomato ketchup, pizza, ham, cheese, bread loaf and blueberry-based products.
  • A large survey showed that consumers and the food and drink industry are interested, but are cautious towards low-cost healthy foods. Healthy food is perceived as promising, but risky – it is expensive, with high research and marketing costs which result in high prices.
  • A food consumption and lifestyle survey and a detailed molecular analysis of individual urine samples could not predict differences in nutritional habits between recruited participants from a ‘risk-of-poverty’ group or an ‘affluent’ group. A difference in income was not a unique identifier for healthy eating.
  • Data showed the general population as a whole often failed to meet nutritional recommendations, regardless of income. People living on a low budget require affordable solutions to help them achieve a nutritionally balanced diet.

On 2nd July 2014 experts from across Europe gathered at the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts, Brussels, to listen to the final results from the CHANCE project, as well as presentations from external nutrition experts, at the conference: Targeting at risk-of-poverty populations in Europe with affordable and nutritionally enhanced food products’.

CHANCE, a three-and-a-half year research initiative comprised of academics, food and drink industry representatives and SMEs aimed to address poor nutrition of European citizens living on a low budget.

At the conference, invited speaker Andreu Palou, General Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Nutrition and Biotechnology from the University of Balearic Islands, emphasised the importance faced by the new challenges in food and nutrition, which are chronic diseases and well-being. One of the main outcomes of CHANCE is the creation of nutritionally enhanced food prototypes for people at risk-of-poverty.

Low cost ingredients, containing nutrients, which are lacking in people’s diets, and lower-cost packaging were used in the production of CHANCE food products; therefore making them cheaper to produce. For example, a bread was developed with a special soybean ingredient increasing its fibre, mineral, protein and vitamin content. A tomato ketchup, pizza, ham, cheese, bread loaf and a variety of blueberry-based products were developed by the project.

To understand how these products would fare on the market, the CHANCE foods were subjected to a number of economic and sensory tests, such as their appearance, smell, taste and texture to evaluate product competitiveness against leading brands. These tests showed that the CHANCE products were indistinguishable in taste compared to current brand-leading products.

“CHANCE outputs could be further exploited by the food industry and our conference served as a specific forum where scientists, stakeholders and opinion leaders met to discuss future strategies,” said Francesco Capozzi and Alessandra Bordoni – joint coordinators of CHANCE.

CHANCE researchers also explored the barriers towards healthy eating, and concluded, based on surveys of over 1,000 consumers, and interviews with 32 small-and-medium-sized enterprises and 21 retailers across five European countries, that one of the main barriers is lack of knowledge about healthy foods. Healthier foods are perceived as both expensive to purchase and to produce and are less tasty.  

“Low-cost healthy food products compete with less healthy foods, which are often cheaper for the consumers and have a higher financial return for the food industry," said Antonella Samoggia, a CHANCE project economist at the University of Bologna, Italy.

Nutritionally enhanced food products will not just aid those at risk-of-poverty. Results from the project show that saturated fats, salts and sugars are too high in the population as a whole and important fibre, vitamins and minerals are lacking in people’s diets.

Researchers from the project recommend that healthy eating initiatives and schemes are developed and promoted, such as cookery classes for all ages, and that there is a greater provision of healthy ready-to-eat lunches and snacks. The food industry is aware that risk-of-poverty consumers are an increasing market segment to be targeted with tailored, nutritionally enhanced foods.

A further study using recruited participant income and analysing urine sample data could not accurately predict healthy eating behaviour or clearly identify if a participant was in the risk-of-poverty group or the affluent group. Nutritional issues are common to both groups of people.

 

Notes to editor:

CHANCE (Low cost technologies and traditional ingredients for the production of affordable, nutritionally correct foods improving health in population groups at risk of poverty) has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration (Grant agreement no. 266331).

For more information on CHANCE please visit the project’s website or contact:

Adrian Giordani – CHANCE’s Communications Manager
European Food Information Council (EUFIC)
adrian.giordani@eufic.org 
+32 2 506 89 89

Partners in the CHANCE project:

Budapest University of Technology and Economics, BME, Hungary

Consorzio Interuniversitario Risonanze Magnetiche di Metalloproteine Paramagnetiche, CIRMMP, Italy

European Committee for Standardization, CEN, Belgium

European Food Information Council, EUFIC, Belgium

Institute for Food Technology of Novi Sad, FINS, Serbia

Institute for Medical Research, IMR, Serbia

Institute of Food Research, IFR, United Kingdom

Italian Organization for Standardization, UNI, Italy

Proteus Gold KFT, LIPOTI, Hungary

STRAND d.o.o., Serbia

Technical Research Centre of Finland, VTT, Finland

UAB Lietpak, LP, Lithuania

University of Bologna, UNIBO, Italy

University of Copenhagen, Denmark

University of Manchester, UK

Valio Ltd, Finland

Vilnius University, VU, Lithuania

Zdravo Organic d.o.o., Serbia

Wider dissemination

The press release was picked up and disseminated by the following publications:

1) Health canal

2) La Celosía

3) Food Navigator