Ex­plor­ing novel biobased pack­aging materials

Producing an adequate supply of food involves great challenges due to population growth, climate change, and increase in the price of energy. In addition, decreasing petroleum sources have led to the development of advanced bio-based materials to replace conventional synthetic plastics and to create novel environmentally compatible applications.

The packaging of food involves a delicate balance between the need to provide sufficient protection to secure food quality and safety, and using the minimal amount of raw materials and natural resources to do so. Packaging both fresh and prepared foods is also a way to reduce food waste, which would occur during transport and storage without the use of protective packaging. Indeed, the primary purpose of food packaging is to provide protection for the product. We characterize novel biobased packaging materials, such as light-weight aerogels.

Revealing mechanisms of post processing senescence to secure the supply of high-quality vegetables for the planetary diet

This project builds upon our work in the reduction of food wastage, by extending the shelf life of fresh food, through packaging.

Rapidly urbanizing society has increased the need for fresh and nutritious vegetables of high quality and extended shelf-life. Currently, up to 50% of produced vegetables are discarded before being consumed, which burdens the environment and increases CO2 emissions unnecessarily. The financial losses caused by this wastage in Europe and the US total around €200 billion annually.

FoMSci aims to reduce vegetable wastage, by extending their shelf-life, which would lead to a decrease in price and an increase in their consumption. The main reasons for vegetable waste are over-ripening, browning, and tissue degradation. Despite their major importance, the detailed mechanisms of vegetable deterioration after processing and packaging are poorly understood. The VegeSense project will identify the key metabolites involved in this process, giving a greater understanding of these mechanisms leading to vegetable quality deterioration. This will enable the advancement of packaging technologies to extend vegetable shelf-life.

VegeSense Team: Kirsi S. Mikkonen (PI)

Funder: Novo Nordisk Foundation

Project Duration: 1.1.2022 – 31.12.2026

Active packaging solution for growing fresh fruit and vegetable markets

The FreshPack project evaluates potential commercialization pathways for an active packaging innovation to tackle fresh food waste.

FreshPack Team: Emmi Korjus, Kimmo Peltola, Mari Lehtonen, Elina Jääskeläinen, Johanna Björkroth, Maija Tenkanen, Kirsi S. Mikkonen (PI)

Funder: Business Finland

Project duration: 01/09/2019 → 03/03/2021

Re­as­sembly of fungal poly­sac­char­ides for biocom­pat­ible in­ter­faces

We explore fungal biomass as a source of valuable components

REPLY team: Ida Nikkilä, Jutta Varis, Tomoko Kuribayashi, Zeynep Tacer-Caba, Pauliina Lankinen, Kirsi S. Mikkonen (PI)

Funder: Academy of Finland (Academy Research Fellow project)

Project duration:  01/09/2017 → 31/08/2022

Val­or­iz­a­tion of WOOD biore­finery products into novel func­tional hy­dro­col­loids

With the Nordic consortium, we work towards valorizing wood hemicelluloses and nanocelluloses in advanced applications.

Academic project partners: Kristiina Oksman, Technical University of Luleå and Kristin Syverud, PFI-RISE

University of Helsinki WOOD-PRO team: Mamata Bhattarai, Hongbo Zhao, Ida Nikkilä, Kirsi S. Mikkonen (PI)

Funder: Nordic Forest Research

Project duration:  01/01/2016 → 31/12/2018

Nordic Forest Research