Research into novel organic food processing is being encouraged by the European Commission (EC) as part of an 'action plan' to boost the sector.
The EC wants manufacturers and others to carry out research into processing and production methods, harmonisation of standards and the co-existence of organic crops with those from genetically modified (GM) organisms. The research will be funded under the EC's sixth Framework research programme.
The EC sees processing as being very important because consumers increasingly want organic food in value-added form. With few additives permitted in organic products, new processing methods need to be developed which preserve the texture, colour and quality of particular foods.
The EC also proposed the formation of two advisory panels -- one composed of scientists. Among their jobs would be establishing a list of "permitted additives and processing aids for processed animal products"
The National Farmers' Union welcomed the funding and praised the EC's calls for better co-ordination among organic inspection bodies and a review of the rules governing products imports into the European Union.
Meanwhile, the Soil Association has set up a Northwest Organic Centre with development agency funding in Myerscough College near Preston to help organic businesses in the region.