OSCII Activity E.51

Organic production of vegetable extracts for food markets and nutraceuticals

Activity summary

The Canadian organic industry is struggling to make value-added products from their rejected fruits and vegetables or their residues from processing. A large share of this produce is simply lost or composted. Some is transformed into various foods (jams, purées, desserts, etc.), but a very important share of these products transpose into direct losses.

The general objective of the proposed research is to design and optimize in the laboratory, and validate under pilot and commercial scales, an organic biorefining extraction process adapted for various certified organic sources of fruits and vegetables from Canada. The specific objectives of this research project are:

  1. To identify and characterize the most suitable sources of organic fruit and vegetable biomasses;
  2. To identify, in collaboration with growers and processors, the best technologies to recuperate, store and prepare for extraction various organic certified biomasses;
  3. To determine the most efficient extraction conditions (temperature, solvents, duration, pH, etc.);
  4. To establish optimal concentration and/or purification conditions (i.e. solvents, resins, pH, flow rate, temperature) for specific components (i.e. biomolecules, organic acids, sugars, fibers);
  5. To determine the best drying procedures (spray drying vs. freeze drying vs. vacuum drying; excipients, etc.) to obtain powders with the required characteristics (density, granulometry, color, stability, etc.).

This project will be carried out in collaboration with many Canadian partners (growers, processors, etc.), and will examine the various sources of organically certified biomasses available in different areas of Québec and Canada to ensure that such biomass fulfills the needs for biorefining extraction (content of bioactive molecules, microbial contamination, heavy metal content, pH, color, etc.). Many species will be studied, including but not limited to: cranberry, blueberry, strawberry, apples, onions, broccoli, spinach, leeks and melon. These biomasses will then be studied both on farms and at processing plants to ensure safe and adequate procedures for recuperation, packaging, storage, preparation and shipping to Nutra Canada’s extraction facility. Loss of quality will be measured along the sourcing phases.

In order to value the whole plant material, all aspects related to extraction will be studied to ensure the most efficient processes to recuperate bioactive molecules for the organic nutrition markets, but also other components such as the fibers, the organic acids and the natural fruit sugars for other food or nutraceutical applications. Various technologies (chromatography, microfiltration, etc.) will be studied for the production of high-concentration extracts while maintaining the certified organic status of the extracts. Finally, the drying procedures will be studied to manufacture extracts that will better respond to the needs of the industry. Different technologies and procedures will be compared and analyzed for their benefits.

For the first time, a research project will be dedicated to studying the various aspects of producing certified organic extracts from fruits and vegetables. A new biorefining process and new procedures will be developed to ensure an efficient and recognized extraction process. Canada will develop a unique expertise not only on extraction in general, but also on all aspects regarding this very delicate process from the farms to the processing plants and to Nutra Canada's extraction facility.

Materials and Results to Date

  • Organic nutraceuticals: Nutra Canada


Activity researchers

Name Affiliation
Paul Angers, Activity Leader Université Laval
Joseph Arul Université Laval
Yves Desjardins Université Laval
Martine Dorais Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Horticulture Research and Development Centre
André Gosselin Université Laval
Sébastien Léonhart Nutra Canada
Guy St-Amant Nutra Canada