A NEW VISION FOR HEALTH AND FOOD
Published: 31 Mar 2016
The Danish Food Cluster has often been at the forefront of innovation in food—it is the pride of Danish entrepreneurial spirit, and one of the reasons for the strength of Danish exports globally. Companies working together to share knowledge and boost profits has already yielded great success—and now these same companies are engaged with scientists to look at changing food supply chains on a fundamental level. It is called “The Health Vision”, and could alter the way the public consumes food—possibly all over the world.
“I want companies to know that scientists can bring new knowledge...a knowledge that can help companies develop not only their business but also their competitiveness,” Jens Christian Djurhuus, DMSc, said.
Recognising the benefit scientists can bring isn't news exactly, but the scope of potential change is something not seen before. The Health Vision intends to modify food to make it healthier in general but also to the point where it can improve health or prevent disease. A foodstuff that can survive difficult transport conditions and prevent disease would change the lives of billions of people, both present and future. The aim, according to Djurhuus, is to place PhD researchers into food businesses and encourage them to find new solutions to old problems.
The scheme also aims to encourage food producers to manufacture products for specific groups. As outlined on the Future Food Innovation website, one example of this is the custom designed ice-creams made to replace protein shakes given to cancer patients. There are hundreds of examples where food only requires a small tweak or an altered delivery method to improve people's lives.
It is little surprise that this kind of innovation should be born in Aarhus. The University of Aarhus is one of the most venerated institutions in Denmark and a world leader in food science research. The reason Danish goods are now exported to over 130 countries worldwide is because of the country's ability to nurture world-class talent in the industry, and the University of Aarhus is a big part of that. Researchers here have won many prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize—it doesn't get much better than that! By focusing so heavily on pushing the boundaries of what we can do with food and supply chains, Aarhus University can encourage undergraduates to see creativity and hard work as part and parcel of working with food.
Aarhus University teaches food science under the broader faculty umbrella of agrobiology so that disciplines can also include plant, animal and environmental sciences. It's obviously beneficial to have students mix in this way, since there is often 'cross-over' between their studies. Studying in this fashion is a recognition of the global way companies source and produce foodstuffs, and graduates nowadays are required to comprehend a 'cradle to the grave' style of production.
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