ResearchL - a Fraunhofer lighthouse project

Resilient system architecture to safeguard food production

Logo of the ResearchL project with a tablet to display the digital application, in the background networked dots in front of a grain field

How resilient is our food supply?


Ensuring a secure supply of high-quality food is a task of systemic importance – however, the global food system network is highly complex, both globally and regionally. Disturbances or interruptions to supply chains and production steps compromise production capacity and are a competitive disadvantage.


In light of several shortcomings, the system must be redesigned in many respects. Researchers from six Fraunhofer Institutes are working on the “ReSearchL” project to identify risks in the value chain and to develop solution scenarios – the ultimate goal being more secure and resilient food production in the future.


Food production

Due to current crises and resource scarcity, there is great pressure for action across all sectors to strengthen the resilience of food production.

The whitepaper "Resilient value chains for food production" by Fraunhofer IPT, Fraunhofer IME and Fraunhofer IVV highlights strategies for strengthening resilience and provides recommendations for action.

To this end, the researchers have considered two dimensions: the technical resilience of the production facilities used and the ecosystem resilience of the food grown.

We are happy to send you the white paper free of charge on request.

From a risk-sensitive to risk-resistant food supply

Logo for the research project ResearchL

The food industry is characterized by highly interconnected value chains of both a very local and global nature. If nothing else, the coronavirus crisis showed us that resilience to any type of disruption is increasingly becoming a decisive competitive advantage. But what does a resilient value chain look like? Just considering the supply of food and its primary products alone is not enough. It is especially important to focus on security. This means taking into account food security with its complex effects on the supply chain but, above all, including production in this assessment.

This is where the “ReSearchL” project comes into play. To date, optimization goals have focused on individual or several steps in value creation without addressing resilience as a whole in terms of relationships and influences. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes want to demonstrate how status and influences on the production environment and value chain should be assessed in order to maintain production in unpredictable situations and to successfully adapt as the situation demands.


Which factors influence resilience in food production and food value chains? Selected results of an industry survey.

Strategies for resilient value creation


Using the examples of

  • vegetable oil and protein production (novel oil mill), and
  • vertical farming,

strategies for resilient value creation are being developed, which will be implemented in the form of a feasibility study. The results will help to develop tools and technological building blocks in the future, which will provide solutions to national and international crisis scenarios.

In addition, they can contribute to the revitalization of rural areas or to the flexibilization of production structures and thus to market-oriented diversification.

Innovative oil mills

In Central Europe, vegetable oils are produced almost exclusively from rapeseed or sunflowers in large oil mills. Due to this lack of raw material diversity, the large production facilities and the resulting dependence on transport from overseas, oil production is very vulnerable to disruptions such as crop failures.

The process chain for the novel oil mill is used to investigate which strategies are effective in minimizing the impact of disturbance scenarios, e.g. with the integration of a simultaneous extraction of high-quality protein meal. 

Vertical Farming

In contrast to obtaining oil using a modular and closed method, vertical farming is more resilient to environmental influences. However, this controlled production approach is susceptible to technical and, to a certain extent, biological problems due to the indoor framework conditions that have to be constantly guaranteed. Based on this information, measures to increase technical and ecological resilience are being developed and experimentally tested. In the future, the approaches are to serve as a new starting point for further resilience strategies to ensure basic services in times of crisis.