Instituto de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria (IRTA) is a research & technology institution belonging to the Department of Agriculture of the Government of Catalonia (Spain). This organization contributes to the modernization, competitiveness and sustainable development of agriculture, food and aquaculture sectors and the supply of healthy and quality foods for consumers. Its general objectives are to promote research and technological development in the area of agri-food, to facilitate the transfer of scientific advances and evaluate its own technological advances whilst seeking the utmost coordination and collaboration between the public and private sectors.
Since its beginning, on the year 2009, IRTA establishes long-term collaboration agreements with other public companies that operate in Catalonia on the areas of technological R&D. Thus has been created a consortium network of centres which also includes universities, CSIC and public-sector institutions among others.
Juice prototypes and purees enriched for the elderly
Research is part of the European Optifel project, focused in the development of food for aged people, with the aim of avoid malnutrition and adapt the products to the needs of this sector of the population.
Data from Eurostat indicates that 30% of the European population will be over 65 and one from every eight people will be over 80 by the year 2060. The challenge for the food industry is to develop innovative products and services adapted to the nutritional needs of the aged. IRTA’s researchers have been engaged in the production of prototypes based on fruit and vegetables specific for the elderly. Some of the developed foods are liquid, similar to smoothies, and others are soft solid, such as soft apple rings. Some of these products have been enriched with proteins, minerals, and vitamins. For the development of these prototypes have been used conventional thermal treatments for preservation, as well as novel technologies more respectful with the sensorial and nutritional properties of foods.
It’s also been taken into consideration an appropriate packaging in order to extend the product´s life or make it easier to use by the aged population. Furthermore, industrial production has been done to analyze national and international distribution logistics of the final products, and detect any potential difficulties.