Significant progress towards processing and product innovation to develop safe and nutrient-dense cereal-pulse-root, crop-fruit-based food ingredients and products to tackle malnutrition for both children and adults has been achieved by the InnoFoodAfrica project.
The research team has made strides in characterizing the raw materials to determine the nutritional composition of the flours including the moisture, fat, protein, crude fibre, ash content as well as particle size distribution. The crops studied in the project included Amaranth grains and leaves, Banana, Bambara, Cowpea, Faba bean, Finger millet, Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato, Sorghum and Teff.
The compositional data has an influence on the functional properties of the raw materials and ultimately the resultant food products. The same raw materials have been distributed to European and African partners for joint work on their development. From these raw materials, new value added and nutritionally improved food ingredients such as protein-rich, fat replacers, low Glycemic Index (GI) and bioprocessed products are under development and their functional properties are currently being assessed.
The next steps will be to use these ingredients for the development of convenient food products. The design of these products will be done in order to achieve the best formulations with appropriate health traits that will help to fill the nutrient gaps identified.
The work focuses on improving the quality of African diets by developing local food-based dietary guidelines for maternal and early-life nutrition based on culturally acceptable climate-smart crops for women and young children in urban areas.