Ever more people are eating ready-to-eat foods on the go. Even at home, an increasing number of working people and parents are opting to buy ready-to-eat foods - for time reasons.
In order to provide people in all stages of life with healthy food choices, a number of R&D organizations and companies from the food manufacturing industry and retail sector have formed the "enable" project cluster.
The aim of the project cluster is to develop new, attractive, and healthy convenience foods to tackle unhealthy eating habits and prevent diet-related illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Consumers should have healthy food choices in all stages of their lives, with modern ready-to-eat foods (convenience products) not being inconsistent with a healthy lifestyle.
The enable project cluster will consider the needs of different target groups such as pregnant women, adolescents, and older people. The scientists will investigate how consumers choose their foods and how these decisions can influence a healthy lifestyle. The results will be used for product development. Additionally, the development of new information and communication technologies will help to guide consumers towards more healthy foods.
The research work is being coordinated by the Technische Universität München.
The Fraunhofer IVV is responsible for developing new, healthy convenience products. The new food pilot plant at the institute offers excellent facilities for developing innovative products. For example, hamburgers with a balanced amount of dietary fiber, fat, carbohydrate, and protein are being developed for the youth target group. Increasing emphasis is being put on the taste impression when developing foods, because only tasty new products have high acceptance. For middle-aged consumers, an age group in which obesity and heart disease are more prevalent, the Fraunhofer IVV is developing dietary fiber enriched products to help prevent these illnesses. Priority once again here in product development is given to the sensory impression, namely the taste.
In addition, scientists in the MultiSense group at the Fraunhofer IVV are using functional magnetic resonance tomography (fMRT) to study brain activity during the hedonic perception and selection of foods. Special interest here is being put on elderly probands, who often suffer from poor nutrition or malnutrition. The results of the project will in the long term enable the optimization of food for older people in particular.