Enrich-Project is the name of a European project that aims to develop biorefineries capable of processing by-products derived from the production and processing of citrus fruits. Several European entities are taking part in the study. On the Spanish side, two of the participating entities are the cooperative ANECOOP, which is the main supplier of biomass from citrus for the project, and the citrus biorefinery Natac Biotech S.L.

Currently, through the optimisation of existing biomass fractionation technologies and the development of new approaches to extract bioactive compounds, the isolation and purification of compounds from citrus fruits, mainly oranges, is being carried out.

Citrus crops are grown in plantations capable of adapting to different climates and they are notoriously important throughout the world. Their global consumption and production have recorded huge growth in recent years, which has allowed for an increase in both the per capita and the total consumption of citrus.

However, the rapid growth of productivity and the slow increase in the demand at certain times of the campaign has also led to an increase in the amount of waste, mainly of the pieces that do not reach the consumer. This waste, together with that of the by-products of the processing industry, mainly juices, has had a huge environmental impact.

This project aims for those discarded pieces to be used for the production of biomass.

At the moment, the final products tbeing developed in the project are mostly made up of citrus peel extract with an approximate hesperidin content of 50-60%. These products can be used in different sectors (human food, animal nutrition, cosmetics, nutraceuticals and adhesives), contributing to the development of solutions to the environmental challenge of citrus residues and meeting the market demand for this kind of ingredients.

ANECOOP, one of the world’s leading citrus exporters and the leading fruit and vegetable company in the Mediterranean, the main supplier of citrus biomass for the project.

The Pro-Enrich project has been funded by the Bio-Biobased Industries Joint Undertaling (BBI JU) within the framework of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. – freshplaza.com