Valorisation of innovative bio-economical potentials along bio-based food & botanical extract value chains in the Alpine Space

Bioeconomy breakout sessions – insights in the AlpBioEco value chains

Building up on the input of the morning, everyone could then join two different breakout sessions about the value chains of the AlpBioEco project. The value chains included apples, walnuts and herbs, as well as one overarching business model concerning all three value chains. We would like to shortly summarize all four breakout rooms and the discussions of the final conference here, including comments from the speakers: 

Breakout session: Apple value chain

The apple value chain offered many opportunities, but in particular apple pomace, a residue from pressing apple juice, showed a high bioeconomic potential. In the frame of AlpBioEco, two business model ideas were developed: gluten-free apple flour and disposable tableware as well as biodegradable packaging, both made from apple pomace.  

Barbara La Licata, from the AlpBioEco project partner Environment Park, states about the session:

The apple value chain breakout room session gave an overview of the activities done during the project by explaining in detail the two business models developed: disposable tableware and apple flour. In the session, a focus on the business opportunities and hurdles of both business models was done. We had a very good exchange with the participants that gave interesting suggestions and remarks on the business models. In particular, a very interesting discussion was raised about the need for standardization of the by-products and a dedicated logistic system. Many participants were interested in the apple flour recipes and the way of use. On the other side, the importance of the development of sustainable packaging remarked the need for a clear EU legislation on new products.

Breakout session: Walnut value chain

In the walnut value chain, the main focus was put on the use of walnut press cake, a residue from the local walnut oil processing. From different experiments with walnut press cake, in the end two business models in the food sector were selected: walnut flips and walnut spreads made with walnut press cake.

Ulfried Miller, from the AlpBioEco project partner Friends of the Earth Germany, regional group “BUND” Lake of Constance-Upper Swabia, states about the session:

Walnuts are important for the Alpine Space, because they promote regional value creation instead of imports. Walnuts are a local superfood with many healthy ingredients and offer many opportunities for the bioeconomic use of by-products. In the session, it was clear that it is necessary to cooperate with larger networks in order to reduce the costs, for instance for the necessary machines or for the quality assurance. Furthermore, biological certification seems to be very important. I really liked the optimism of the participants – in general, there are more chances than problems seen in regional walnut production.” 

Breakout session: Herbs value chain

The herbs value chain focused on two rather different ideas based on bioeconomy. One was to include Alpine herbs extracts into an herbal pacifier for children. The other was to use Alpine hay flowers for revegetation purposes. Both business model ideas have the promotion of Alpine herbs and hay at their centre.

Marina Fischer, from the AlpBioEco project partner Regio Im Walgau, states about the session:

I found the entire conference very successful and am very happy about the many participants attending. The interest in the herbs breakout sessions was really high with around 35 visitors. It was also pleasing to see the great interaction between the participants and the presenters - there were so many questions and additions to the business models that we unfortunately couldn't even answer all of them. All in all, we can say that it was a balanced mix of entrepreneurs, students, people from research and interested parties.” 

Breakout session: Digital marketplace and service platform

In order to combine all the bioeconomic potential developed in the value chain, one overarching business model was also developed. The digital service platform thus is meant to create a digital marketplace for all kinds of bio-based products: raw materials, manufactured products and bio-based “waste” material.

Katharina Distler and Robin Ehrhardt from the AlpBioEco project partner KErn, Competence Center for Nutrition, and Uros Strnisa from the AlpBioEco project partner Biotechnical Centre Naklo, state about the session: 

The idea of a digital marketplace came up again and again in all workshops of AlpBioEco. During the AlpBioEco project, we were able to meet with developers of similar platforms to exchange ideas and develop them further. An important point of discussion is the successful implementation of the platform, which requires a lot of advertising to get a certain minimum number of registrations. Only then it becomes valuable for the participants. A digital platform makes the market more transparent and successfully connects demand and supply. So achieving acceptance and awareness right from the beginning will be the most important hurdle to overcome. We were especially happy about the interest of the participants to realize the platform. We discussed the key factors that influence the implementation. Involvement of the participants was wide-ranging and there was a good exchange of information, views and advices. There was a great outcome of the meeting by the participants.” 

Picture credits: 
Fresh red apple isolated on white. © irin-k
Walnuts with leaves isolated on white © irin-k
Fresh thyme isolated on white © Kate Aedon
Tablet-Computer einzeln auf weißem Hintergrund. Baum © vovan