The LOCALNUTLEG project aimed to develop innovative plant-based food products with added value by promoting local Mediterranean crops of nuts and legumes. Here is a look at this European project, led by IRTA (Instituto de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria in Spain), and which brings together 20 partners.
The LOCALNUTLEG project objective is to empower local Mediterranean nuts and legumes with a legal registered trademark (Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)) or autochthonous identity through the development of innovative plant-based added-value food products tied to recover the attractiveness of the Mediterranean diet.
The project aims to identify local nut and legumes varieties linked to Mediterranean gastronomic cultures, providing alternative-protein and maximum amount of nutrients and bioactive compounds and adopting them in Mediterranean diets through their use in plant-based dairy analogues, potential plant-based flours for bakery and pasta and added-value traditional ready-to-eat meals.
Qualitative and quantitative research will be carried out in EU participating countries (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany and France) and non-EU countries (Israel, Turkey and Morocco) to determine consumer acceptance of the developed products.
The objectives of the project have several innovative features and benefits, which are as follows:
Overall, the project has the potential to promote sustainable food systems, preserve local biodiversity, support economic growth, and improve public health and nutrition.
The LOCALNUTLEG project is currently halfway through its execution. Our partners have made a significant progress in achieving our objectives. To date, we have successfully characterized 50 different legume and nut cultivars from different PDO, PGI or autochthonous typical cultivars of the Mediterranean area providing information on their nutritional characterization.
This information has been compiled in a online published booklet translated to different languages providing images of the high biodiversity and availability in legumes and nuts present in the Mediterranean region. This booklet also provides bite-sized information of local nuts and legumes concerning unique crop characteristics, history, places of origin (PDO or PGI), distinctive features on production processes (harvesting techniques), gastronomy, and nutritional and functional properties.
Additionally, over 30 legume and nut-derived flour products have been characterized from a techno functional point of view providing key information for the proper development of bakery products such as gluten-free cookies or pasta using turbocooking technology. The potential inclusion or adaptation of this local material is also being evaluated into ready-to-eat meals and a wide range of products are redesigned and test according to consumer expectations including traditional dishes, spreadable, sauces, 3D printed or texturized products.
Also, the project is under the development of innovative beverages and fermented food products using those most promising nuts and legumes to generated innovative fermented probiotic plant-based products such as fermented beverages, yogurts and cheese analogues. All these developments are considering assessment of consumers’ satisfaction and acceptance and assessing feasible marketing strategies to provide stakeholders guidelines for creating added value and matching market demands.
We are confident that the remaining half of our project will be just as successful as the first, and we look forward to sharing our progress with you as we continue to work towards our objectives.
Collaborative innovation is a crucial element of the LOCALNUTLEG project, and it means working together with partners from different countries and backgrounds to achieve a common goal.
As the coordinator of the project, I believe that collaborative innovation is about combining knowledge, expertise, and resources to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. In our project, we are working with partners from different countries in the Mediterranean area to develop innovative plant-based food products that are tied to the region’s gastronomic cultures. Each partner brings their unique perspective and knowledge, allowing us to develop products that are tailored to specific local preferences and needs. By collaborating, we are able to share best practices and learn from each other, which ultimately leads to better outcomes.
Moreover, collaborative innovation means working towards a shared vision and being open to new ideas and approaches. It requires effective communication, trust, and mutual respect among partners. By embracing collaborative innovation, we can bring together different perspectives and capabilities to create more innovative and sustainable solutions that benefit all involved parties.
Overall, I believe that collaborative innovation is a powerful tool for driving progress and solving complex challenges, and I am proud to be part of the LOCALNUTLEG project that embodies this approach.