Innovative extraction techniques for isolating useful bioactive compounds from wine waste and turning them into value-added ingredients will benefit local winemakers, food producers and the environment. Wine is not just great for drinking it would appear; bioactive compounds created during production can be turned into valuable ingredients for a whole range of sectors. Now scientists at the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology have developed novel ways of extracting these compounds, which can be used as raw materials or semi-finished products in further processing – in functional foods, for example, or pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
One successful project trial demonstrated how chocolates and pralines can be enriched with bioactive compounds isolated from the remainders of grapes after being pressed. After optimising an experimental spray-drying method, specific quantities of plant extract powder have been produced and used as ingredients to enrich chocolates and pralines, improving their colour, smell, texture and taste. The project, made possible by funding from the European Regional Development Fund, has also strengthened the scientific and research capacity of the Faculty through the acquisition of new equipment and knowledge.
The project is sustainable and environmentally conscious as it worked with solvents and materials on the basis of green chemistry and low environmental impact. The new techniques developed are also highly energy efficient. The team hopes that the successful implementation of this project will create the basis for further research on other food industry by-products, such as olive oil mill waste along with apple, cherry and tomato processing waste. The new techniques developed by the team will now be passed on to small and medium-sized wine makers in Croatia, enabling them to achieve production efficiencies and open up new revenue streams. Indeed, a key goal of the project has been to strengthen the bond between Croatia’s scientific and business sectors in order to fully exploit the biological potential of organic waste and lessen its impact on the environment. Issues such as investment in skills and territorial cohesion were addressed through training programmes and workshops in different Croatian regions.
New efficient techniques to process organic waste could lead to the development of regional centres for utilising wine waste, along with other kinds of industrial waste with certain modifications. Ultimately, the success of this project highlights the potential benefits of developing a strong network of scientists and related institutions involved in waste management. Total investment for the project “Application of Innovative Techniques in Bioactive Compounds: Isolation from Organic Waste in the Wine Product” is EUR 550000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 390000 through the “Regional Research and Innovation” Operational Programme.