The Food Cluster of Lower Austria follows the vision of meeting the high demands that legislators, retailers and consumers place on food. To do this, two dimensions must be taken into account: safety and quality. Food safety means ensuring that the consumer’s food does not pose any health risk, be it chemical or microbiological. Food quality has many aspects: The flavor and enjoyment expectations of customers should be met and exceeded, and products should have a longer shelf life and not lose their visual and haptic appeal. Comfort and convenience are also becoming increasingly important.
To ensure the safety and quality of the end product, measures must be taken along the entire value chain: From fields and stables to food processing companies and storage, all the way to distribution to the consumer’s table.
Numerous building blocks for the realization of this vision have already been implemented:
- In several qualification projects, employees from different companies were able to enrich their knowledge and skills, for example in sensory testing of food or the nutritional needs of different age groups.
- In the “Convenience Packaging” cooperation project, innovative packaging technologies were used to increase the protective effect and thus the shelf life of the packaged food while at the same time improving sustainability and consumer friendliness. Sponsors: Province of Lower Austria, Department of Economy, Tourism and Technology
- In the “Frozen Bakery” industry project, companies in the flour and baked goods industry have been working on improving the quality of frozen baked goods, focusing on various factors along the entire value chain. Sponsors: The “Collective Research” program of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG)
- As part of the “Smart Cow” project, rapid DNA tests were developed to check the bacterial load in raw milk and the data was collected anonymously in a database. This also allows forecasts to be made regarding the regional occurrence of udder infections, making the project a good example of the use of digital technologies in the food sector. Sponsors: Province of Lower Austria, Department of Economy, Tourism and Technology
One of the existing challenges is to involve the often family-structured, small and medium-sized businesses in the food sector in these activities and to make technical and scientific developments accessible to them. In this way, traditional artisanship and scientific methods can complement, support and optimize each other.