Developing Value-added Food Products from Agricultural Commodities

Summary

UGA’s FoodPIC (Food Product Innovation & Commercialization Center) provides technical support and engages with entrepreneurs as they develop and commercialize new food and beverage products. The FoodPIC is closely engaged in product development guidance, addressing process development requirements, highlighting critical food safety concerns, conducting shelf life studies and generating Nutrition Facts panels. The mission of FoodPIC is to ensure that food entrepreneurs are compliance- ready for manufacturing safe, shelf stable and legal food products before hitting the retail shelf.

Situation

FoodPIC provides the vital infrastructure and a multifaceted support system for new food businesses which includes human capital, technical leadership, physical facilities and state of the art equipment to support the economic development and expansion of the food industry in Georgia and in the Southeast. The vision of FoodPIC is to: • Impact the public service and economic development of Georgia, the Southeast and beyond by providing outreach and technical solutions for food entrepreneurs • Provide experiential learning to students interested in learning about the application of science to food • Conduct research to develop and drive breakthrough innovations • Create the future of the food industry • Deliver national and international recognition to UGA

Response

FoodPIC has conducted research on the application of processing technologies on most of the major agricultural and seafood commodities of GA. FoodPIC has led a sustained effort to move beyond the current “fresh fruit” or “raw fish” business model to capture a greater return on their commodities by delivering higher value foods locally. Collaborators include: The American Peanut Council, the GA Peanut Commission, the GA Pecan Growers Association, the GA Pomegranate Association, the GA Blueberry Association, the GA Citrus Association and the Marine Extension & Georgia Sea Grant Program (cannonball jellyfish). The importance of value-added products is continuing to grow. Last fall, 2019, the GDA/USDA awarded the UGA FoodPIC team a Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBGP) 0f $100,000 to develop value-added products from pomegranate. The title of the grant is: “Enhancing Pomegranate Competitiveness by Adding Value and Improving Food Safety”. In spring, 2020 a $30,000 grant was awarded to work on satsuma citrus, entitled: “Enhancing the Sustainability of Georgia Citrus Industry through Comprehensive Educational Activities.” FoodPIC has also supported cutting edge research in the areas of human nutrition and disease management. In the arena of nutritious foods, the FoodPIC team developed several high protein foods for a long-term clinical trial entitled “Skeletal and Cognitive Effects of Nutrition from Eggs”. The study was designed by Dr. Rick Lewis to assess bone health in pre-teens, children 9-13 years of age. High protein products made with egg, milk and gelatin were shared with the American Egg Board and helped secure funding ($600,000) for the clinical trial. Over 35,000 pancakes, waffles and brownies were made at FoodPIC during an 18-month period and delivered frozen to the UGA Bone and Body Composition Laboratory in Athens for distribution to subjects. FoodPIC received 25% of the grant over 3 years. The development of “designed foods” as a delivery mechanism for nutraceutical or pharmacological components is another area of active research by medical scientists. The FoodPIC team recently developed 4 cookie variants, enriched with a specific blend of amino acids for an upcoming clinical trial for young patients suffering from Sickle Cell Disease. This trial will be led by Dr. Jacqueline Hibbert, at Morehouse University College of Medicine. This fall, FoodPIC will start producing and delivering these frozen baked products for research funded by the NIH, on “Cost effective nutritional therapy for managing sickle cell disease complications”. The FoodPIC fees for these services will be $25,000.

Impact

FoodPIC and its mission are increasingly relevant and vital to the stakeholders of Georgia, Every year since 2015 has seen continued upward growth in the number of users requesting either information or technical support services on their food products. Over the last 5 years over 350 project proposals have been generated. By the end of June 2020, over 240 FoodPIC projects were successfully completed which generated over $520,000 in fees for service. These projects represent either new or expanding food businesses that have leveraged the technical expertise at FoodPIC since 2015. The demand by stakeholders to evaluate new food business ideas did not slow down during the pandemic but instead continued to accelerate. FoodPIC was able to support this demand by leveraging Zoom meetings.

State Issue

Health & Nutrition

Details

  • Year: 2020
  • Geographic Scope: State
  • County: Spalding
  • Location: Georgia Station, Griffin
  • Program Areas:
    • Agriculture & Natural Resources

Author

    Kealey, Kirk

Collaborator(s)

CAES Collaborator(s)

  • Chen, Jinru
  • Mis Solval, Kevin E

Non-CAES Collaborator(s)

  • Lewis, Richard D.
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Research Impact