Growth and innovation in Icelandic food production

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A total of eighteen new projects were initiated by entrepreneurs, companies, universities and institutions in collaboration with Matís from the Food Fund. The projects focus on increased value creation, sustainability and competitiveness and include the production of meat, vegetables, fruit, salted fish, roe deer, redfish, protein processing, astaxanthin rich fish oil, cereals, seaweed in feed, rapid brewing, rapid digestion, on Icelandic fish, food labeling and environmentally friendly food packaging.

One of the main roles of Matvælarannsókna Íslands (Matís) is to support innovation in the Icelandic food and biotechnology industry, and Matís is currently working on 120 research and development projects in collaboration with companies and institutions across the country. The government's direct funding to Matís to carry out its role, research and innovation in the field of food for the benefit of the economy, however, is the same in ISK terms as when Matís was founded in 2007. This certainly limits Matís' ability and potential to collaborate with small , as a large domestic enterprise and sprout and formulate practical projects.

Matís and partners in 18 projects that received funding from the Food Fund this year.

The success of Matís and our partners in the recent allocation by the Food Fund of development and innovation grants for the production and processing of food and by-products from Icelandic agricultural and marine products is therefore to be welcomed. It is thanks to this great result of tireless work and the great ambition of Matís employees to support innovation in Icelandic food production. Matís employees involved in these research and innovation projects are proud to have the opportunity to work with forward-looking companies, institutions and entrepreneurs in shaping the future, ensuring food security and promoting increased value creation and improved public health. The following is a brief overview and information about the 18 projects that Matís is connected to and received a foothold in the Food Fund this month, as well as our partners in the projects. 

  1. Meat production cycle economy (Kelda). Co-operation between Norðlenski in Akureyri and Matís. The main goal of the project is to improve the production and handling of raw materials for the Icelandic meat industry. The project is about researching the possibilities for increased utilization and value creation of by-products from slaughterhouses and meat processing that are currently underused in Iceland. The by-products of slaughterhouses and meat processing plants are numerous, such as various offal, blood, cuts and bones and are an excellent source of nutrients to name a few.
  2. Fiber-rich and healthy skin? Pesticides, heavy metals and nutrients in the external and internal burden of Icelandic and imported vegetables and fruits. (Kelda).Collaboration between the Faculty of Food and Nutrition, University of Iceland and Matís. The Reykjavík Horticultural Farmers' Sales Association believes that the project will be useful to horticultural farmers in Iceland, and that the Reykjavík Agricultural Advisory Center will also be involved in the project. The aim of the project is twofold: a) To demonstrate the uniqueness of Icelandic vegetables in terms of pesticide residues compared to imported vegetables. b) To increase the consumption of underutilized by-products - peel and bark. The external burden of vegetables and fruits is often high in fiber and healthy, and therefore increased consumption can not only have a positive environmental impact through the utilization of underutilized by-products but also have a positive effect on Icelanders' public health.
  3. Seaweed and good bacteria in aquaculture (Kelda). Collaboration between Fóðurverksmiðjan Laxá in Akureyri, Þörungaverksmiðjan Thorverk, Þörungaklaustur in Reykhólasveit and Matís. The aim of the project is to develop feed supplements with bioactive properties from lactic acid fermented seaweed for aquaculture.
  4. Salted fish for the future (Kelda). Collaboration between Þorbjörn and Vísir in Grindavík, Faculty of Food and Nutrition, University of Iceland and Matís. The aim of the project is to develop and the best production process for the dehydration of salted fish with a view to exporting finished consumer goods and thus achieve increased added value.
  5. Challenges when packing vegetables (Kelda).  Partners are the Association of Horticultural Farmers, the Horticultural Farmers' Sales Association in Reykjavík and Matís. The Association of Southern Municipalities will also be involved in the project. The objectives of the project are to: a) Give an overview of options for packing vegetables. b) Investigate the shelf life and quality of vegetables for different packaging in Icelandic conditions. c) Give an overview of the impact of packaging on the environment and human health. d) Carry out calculations for horticultural farmers on the carbon footprint of vegetables with regard to packaging.
  6. Nutrients from the brewing streams of brewing (Kelda). Collaboration between Ölgerðin in Reykjavík and Matís. The aim of the project is to utilize by-products that are created during brewing and create value from them. The rate resulting from malting (heating to get rid of fermentable sugars from the grain) is rich in protein and hemicellulose. In the project, bioactive polysaccharides will be processed from the fast with the help of enzymes. In addition, protein will be processed from the raw material and tested in fish feed.
  7. CRISP-FISH: Rapid redfish species analysis (Kelda). Collaboration between Útgerðarfélag Reykvíkingar, Brims in Reykjavík and Matís. Three types of redfish are important in our exports to foreign markets, redfish, deep redfish and small redfish. Of these species, redfish are the most valuable and it can be said that we have a dominant market position because 85% of the world catch comes from Iceland. Cheap redfish products from Asia threaten our markets, and although genetic methods are available and necessary to distinguish between species, they are time-consuming and only carried out in specialized equipment laboratories and by trained people. The aim of the project is to develop rapid genetic methods for species analysis of different redfish species.
  8. Improved processing processes for sea-freezing redfish (Kelda). Collaboration between Útgerðarfélag Reykvíkingar, Faculty of Food and Nutrition, University of Iceland and Matís. The aim of the project is to find ways to use vertical plate freezers to freeze redfish in sea processing. The possibility of utilizing this equipment would lead to increased processing efficiency and flexibility, but freezing is often a bottleneck in seawater processing of redfish as it is not possible to fully utilize the freezing capacity of vessels.
  9. New solutions for food labeling (Kelda). Collaboration between the Association of Small Food Producers, Hugsjár in Reykjavík and Matís. The aim of the project is to develop new solutions for food labeling in accordance with regulatory provisions, and thus promote that they are as accurate and safe as possible. The project's products will be new solutions for food producers; detailed instructions (webbook) on food labeling (nutritional value, content descriptions, additives and shelf life) as well as a software solution that works with the ÍSGEM database when calculating nutritional value based on a recipe. The solutions are labor-saving for food producers, especially small producers.
  10. Utilization of eggs (Kelda). Collaboration between Arctic fish in Ísafjörður, Marine Collagen in Grindavík Marine Research Institute, University of Iceland and Matís. The main goal of the project is to investigate the utilization possibilities of egg yolks for gelatin and collagen production. Today, the grayling eggs are used for caviar production and the grayling after roe collection is often frozen for human consumption. Food markets for frozen grayling have been very volatile, so it is of great value to find more utilization possibilities for both grayling and erysipelas. 
  11. Mannakorn - Better barley with improved methods (Kelda). Collaboration between the Agricultural University of Iceland in Hvanneyri and Matís. In addition, there is co-operation with barley farmers around the country in the search for the best varieties of barley. The aim of the project is to find the varieties of varieties that are suitable for Icelandic conditions that achieve satisfactory maturity and quality so that they can be cultivated in an efficient manner.
  12. Mannakorn - Oats and quality maximization (Kelda). Collaboration between the Agricultural University of Iceland in Hvanneyri, the Agricultural Advisory Center, Líflands in Reykjavík, Sandhólsbændir in Skaftárhreppur and Matís. The main goal of the project is to lay the foundation for a new sector in grain farming in Iceland, oat farming. Oats are a novelty in Icelandic grain farming, a farming industry that is breaking children's shoes in Iceland. Oats have been little studied in this country and breeding for Icelandic conditions has not been practiced. Oats are farmed in Iceland, however, but there is a significant improvement in the scope and quality of that crop.
  13. More environmentally friendly food packaging (Kelda). Cooperation between Tempra in Hafnarfjörður, Sæplast and ITUB Iceland in Dalvík, Samherji in Akureyri, Arnarlax in Bíldudalur, the University of Iceland and Matís. The aim of the project is to develop lighter and more environmentally friendly packaging for the export of fresh fish products.
  14. Value in the processing water of catfish processing (Kelda). Collaboration between Brims in Reykjavík, Vísir and Þorbjörn in Grindavík, Samherji in Akureyri and Matís. The aim of the project is to develop valuable products from protein in processing water from catfish processing. The amount and properties of proteins in water from different processing equipment will be mapped, taking into account raw materials, equipment settings, etc. It will be assessed whether it is possible to reduce protein loss and methods developed to collect and process this side raw material for human consumption.
  15. The effect of the renewal of the Icelandic fishing fleet on the carbon footprint of products (Kelda). Collaboration between Vinnslustöðin and Leo Seafood in the Westman Islands, Skinney Þinganes in Höfn in Hornafjörður, Síldarvinnslan in Neskaupstaður, Fisk Seafood and Versinn Vísindagarður in Sauðarkrókur, Hraðfrystihús Gunnvarar in Hnífsdalur, Brims, SFS, Canada and ISI Foods in Reykjavík, ICE, Salti Matís. The aim of the project is to carry out a life cycle analysis of Icelandic fish products derived from the catches of several trawlers that have come to Iceland in recent years, in order to assess the impact of fleet renewal on the carbon footprint of the products.
  16. Protein quality changes in the processing of cod and redfish products (Kelda).  Collaboration between Vísir in Grindavík, Brims in Reykjavík, the Faculty of Food and Nutrition, University of Iceland and Matís. The aim of the project is to investigate the effect of light salting and salted fish processing on the quality of protein in cod products as well as the effect of freezing and cold storage on the quality of protein in redfish products. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the effects of these processing processes on protein in seafood and how to maintain the consistent quality of the proteins in terms of properties and bioactivity throughout the value chain, from fishing to consumers.
  17. Red Gold (Product). Collaboration between Síldarvinnslan in Neskaupstaður, the Faculty of Food and Nutrition, University of Iceland and Matís. The main goal of the project is to complete astaxanthin-rich fish oil from redfish that arrives on land as extra raw material or by-catch from pelagic fisheries. Red-edged tributaries will be collected during the processing of mackerel in SVN's fish processing plant with new collection equipment. After collection, three different processing methods will be used in the production of astaxanthin-rich fish oil. Erythema contains a large amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as the antioxidant astaxanthin, which makes it sought after in further processing.  
  18. Sea Gold (Product). The collaboration between Slippinn and Samherji in Akureyri and Matís. The aim of the project is to develop solutions to obtain a stable and correct quality of catfish products during mechanical bleeding and washing on board processing vessels. 

Matís congratulates all those involved in the above-mentioned innovation projects on the grant and that the collaboration returns the results, products and knowledge needed to further strengthen Icelandic food production throughout the country. Matís came up with other applications to the Food Fund this year that did not get off to a good start this time, but will hopefully, after improvements, become projects later. However, it is clear that there is a lot of good ideas and great growth and innovation power among start-ups, small and large companies across the country who are looking for knowledge from Matís in the development and innovation of food and by-products. Matís will continue to do its important work in supporting innovation within the Icelandic food sector with expertise, equipment and facilities.