Longer Shelf Life for Food; Increasing Competitive Power in Export

29 October 2014 - ITUNOVA TTO

Shelf life in the food industry constitutes one of the most important bases of the national and international competition. Increasing shelf life of food products in a manner that allows healthy consumption and quality retention raises the profitability and efficiency of the production companies in the market in the same ratio. Especially for exports, the strategic importance of shelf life increases even more.  On one hand challenging logistic processes of the foreign markets and climactic conditions and on the other hand though global competition make the shelf life more important even than to be out in the shelf.  Because when the consumer could not find the product on the shelf complying with the brand promised features and qualities, preferences can easily be used for one of the many other competitive products. This endangers the brand's and the product's access to this shelf and market again. Also, direct relation of food product to public health adds more sensitivity to this area... ITU Food Engineering Department Head Prof. Dr. Beraat Özçelik realized his R&D project within ITU NOVA supported by TÜBİTAK and showed that university industry collaboration can also create important success stories in the field of export. Prof. Dr. Özçelik's project enabled the solution of an 8 year long heat related problem for a Turkish food sector company operating in the Saudi Arabia market in such a short time like 2 months. Thanks to the newly developed process, the shelf life of the soft candy type food product was increased from 6 months to 18 months, hence gaining a superiority against foreign competitors. Turkish company had problems with its soft candy product named "Liquorice" in 47 degree temperature with 18 months shelf life, the problem occurred for 8 years with the products sent t o Saudi Arabia and Iraq between the years 2005-2013. Especially in Saudi Arabia, the temperatures reach 47 degrees and although there are no problems in Turkey, exported products to those countries get broken due to dry weather, the product textural features and ability to bite were being distorted. The products in the packaging on the shelf become dry, chapped, like a hard rock. Normal shelf life of the product was reduced from 1 year to less than 6 months. Company officials searched for scientific support at ITU and found it from ITU Food Engineering Department Head Prof. Dr. Beraat Özçelik with the collaboration of  ITUNOVA Technology Transfer Office. The R&D process started by analyzing the products of a Dutch competitor company who did not have such a problem, air temperature, air relative humidity, temperatures between storage and transportation were evaluated. Especially the 3 main factors: product packaging, formulation and production process were analyzed and heavily tested. Techniques developed in the laboratory applied to the industry, shelf life was simulated with the competitor's product under the same humidity, temperature and relative humidity. As a result of a quick study, that 8 year long problem has been solved in 2 months. The shelf life of the Turkish export product was increased up to 18 months. This also exceeded the shelf life of the competitor's product by 6 months and provided a competitive advantage. ITUNOVA TTO provided active professional support to complet the project at such speed with success. The first R&D project realized by ITU Food Engineering  Department Head Prof. Dr. Beraat Özçelik in collaboration with ITUNOVA TTO, a Turkish export product became a  product with long durability gaining a high competitive power. Scientific output of this study has also been released by an international publication. Projects to make the food healthier and more beneficial... 


Prof. Dr. Beraat Özçelik is the dean of ITU Chemistry Metallurgy Faculty  and he makes studies on functional foods, ie. making foods more healthier. Prof. Dr. Beraat Özçelik works on a wide range of R&D projects from developing foods with reduced oil, salt and sugar to pre-biotic and pro-biotic products, products enriched with Omega 3 and other antioxidants.  One of the topics that Prof. Dr. Beraat Özçelik has been working in recent years is to encapsulate the human body beneficial components by downsizing them in to nano dimensions, thus to increase their bioefficacy. In other words, to increase their durability in the stomach and intestinal system, for example, to enable Omega 3 antioxidant to stay without decaying in the acidic stomach environment and reach down to intestines.


Prof. Dr. Beraat Özçelik has countless R&D projects all aimed to make foods more beneficial. For the EU project coordinated by UK, he represents Turkey with 300 thousand Euro budget and he is adding a very special probiotic spore-forming resistant bacteria found in Vietnamese coast in yougurt and chocolate. Again Prof. Dr. Beraat Özçelik projects include extraordinary studies like geographical marking of the food products, pastorized liquid eggs with reduce cholesterol, nut oil enriched with Omega 3, enzymatic oil, similar to the maternal milk, developments, ham with reduced oil level. Man's relationship with food, of course, are not confined to functional benefits. Prof. Dr. Beraat Özçelik performs emotional analysis studies to understand the relation that man develops with food and the geographical variables of this relation. Maybe this time instead of referring science to solve mostly encountered problems, referring to the knowledge at the university to understand who should produce which products.