• Concluding remarks on ICEF 14

  • The ICEF14 congress took place in Nantes from June 20 to 23, 2023 and brought together 630 international participants around the theme:

    The 14th International Congress on Engineering and Food (ICEF14) is presented by the International Association for Engineering and Food (IAEF) with the support of ONIRIS - GEPEA (CNRS Research Unit 6144) and INRAE. The ICEF congress is held every 4 years and is the leading international scientific event on food processing. This is the second time ICEF has been held in France, following ICEF9 in Montpellier in 2004. In the Pays de la Loire region, of which Nantes is the capital, 1/3 of jobs are food-related. Along with neighboring Brittany, it is Europe's 9th-largest food-processing economy.
    Nationalities of the participants of ICEF14 (non including 177 French participants)

    Participation was highly international, as the graph above shows. A very strong French representation (177 participants or 28%) was followed by a strong Brazilian delegation, which can be explained by the strong links between Oniris and several Brazilian universities.
    The ICEF14 congress lasted 3 and a half days, and was preceded by the "Young Scientists Workshop" organized on Monday afternoon June 19 to help PhD students and recent graduates prepare for their future careers and develop their networks.
    A total of 750 papers were presented, with 250 oral presentations spread over 6 parallel sessions, including 8 plenary presentations. The remaining 500 papers were presented as posters in 2 sessions. In addition, 4 technical visits were organized: the ALGOSOLIS platform of UMR GEPEA on the production and bio-refining of micro-algae, a joint visit to ONIRIS-GEPEA and the INRAE center in Nantes, a visit to AGRONAUTE in Nantes on the theme of urban agriculture and the circular economy, and the "MAD4AM" 3D printing cluster at Hall 6 in Nantes.
    The congress was organized around 6 thematic pillars presented below. 4 of these pillars were particularly in demand: conventional processes, emerging processes, sustainability and decarbonization, and food performance. From the wide range of papers presented, it is difficult to extract any particular highlights. With regard to emerging processes, there was a great deal of activity around electrothermal processes, giving access to the decarbonization of the agri-food chain with heating processes (microwaves, ohmic heating, etc.), but also a wide variety of electrotechnologies enabling the development of improved structuring or preservation strategies (pulsed electric field, electric field, magnetic field, plasma, etc.). Among emerging processes, 3D printing was strongly represented, with around 30 oral communications (over 10% of the total); approaches are becoming increasingly sophisticated to customize matrices, while efforts are continuing to increase equipment productivity, following the example of research carried out at GEPEA on continuous ohmic heating in 3D printing. Food performance covered a wide range of presentations, from formulation to structuring and sensory perception. The implementation of new protein supplies, particularly via legumes, is often approached with nutritional (bioavailability), sensory and consumer acceptability issues in mind.

    Invited plenary speakers addressed the following topics:
    On Tuesday morning, two introductory lectures focused on food quality and the degree of food processing, with Isabelle SOUCHON (France, Agroparistech) "Healthy diets and food processing level: some research issues for food engineering" and Vincenzo FOGLIANO (NL, WUR "The link between food processing and food quality: can we go beyond the obvious?"), who presented cross-cutting views on the degree of food processing and "ultra-processing". Various models were presented by I. Souchon, who emphasized that progress still needs to be made and that these models and classifications are often interpreted too quickly by consumers; the processing of agricultural raw materials, cooking and stabilization are still necessary. V. Fogliano used a number of examples to show that the speed with which food is ingested has a significant influence on certain nutritional indicators; in other words, foods requiring longer chewing and slower digestion would have a more favorable nutritional outcome, associated with less body weight gain.
    These two presentations were followed by Judith EVANS (LSBU, UK "The role of refrigeration in creating a secure, sustainable and resilient food chain") and Sara GONZALES-GARCIA (USC, ESP "Driving commitment to a sustainable food system: consumer and producer perspectives") who presented complementary approaches to the sustainability of food systems. Judith EVANS is President of Commission C of the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIF-IIR), covering food applications. The cold chain is a major challenge for preserving food resources and reducing waste; these topics are currently being investigated in the European "ENOUGH" project, which has been selected for the 2020 European GREENDEAL call for proposals. Agricultural sectors were detailed by S Gonzales, who is completing the coordination of a European project on this subject; agriculture is facing major challenges in terms of machinery and fertilizers, challenges that legumes can help to overcome in part through their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen.
    On Wednesday June 20, two further plenary lectures were given on process-structure links. Thijs DEFRAEYE (ETH Zurich "Physics-based modeling for cooling and drying of plant-based foods: today, tomorrow and beyond") highlighted the value of modeling for optimizing processes and integrating these models into supervision and predictive cold chain tools. He also presented recent advances in electro-hydro-dynamic (EHD) drying, a well-known process which he revisited and to which he introduced interesting innovations enabling its implementation on an industrial scale while reducing energy consumption. Osvaldo H. CAMPANELLA (USA, "Fabrication, characterization, and potential applications of texturization of biopolymers to produce nutritious and high-quality food products") presented a detailed review of the state of the art in polymer structuring and shaping processes, with a particular focus on plant proteins; the subject of plant protein-based analogues of meat or dairy products was the subject of numerous presentations throughout the congress, using a variety of sources (legumes, insects, microalgae, .... ) and was one of the highlights of ICEF14.
    Finally, at the close of the congress on Friday June 23, Prof. Weibiao ZHOU from Singapore illustrated the importance of the links between structure and the functional and nutritional properties of foods; he has developed numerous projects around bread-making with a view to enriching the nutritional value of these products. Pierre WEILL, an agricultural engineer, entrepreneur and doctor in biological sciences and nutrition, presented the "Blanc-Bleu-cœur" association, which combines animal feed and the nutritional quality of dairy products in particular, by optimizing the supply of unsaturated fatty acids (w3, w6) throughout the processing chain from plant to human.
    At the close of ICEF14, 5 "best oral" and 6 "best poster" awards were presented to students. 8 "IAEF Life Time Achievement" awards were presented by IAEF in recognition of significant contributions to the field of agri-food processes, and the date and venue of the next ICEF were announced: ICEF15 will take place in April 2027 in Orlando, Florida, USA.
    To conclude this overview of the ICEF14 congress, we would like to thank the members of the local organizing committee for their efficient work, the scientific committee, the administrations of ONIRIS, GEPEA CNRS 6144 and INRAE, the Pays de la Loire Region, Nantes-Métropole, the Cité des Congrès de Nantes, our sponsors EHEDG, Anton-Paar, FLUID-AIR, ThermoFisher Scientific, ELSEVIER, Nestlé, FARHAT Bakery, our exhibitors SAIREM and HYPERBARIC, our "Best Orals" sponsors PURATOS, Qualiment, SYMRISE, MAD4AM Cluster/GEPEA and our "Best Posters" sponsors ONIRIS-GEPEA CNRS 6144 and INRAE. Our thanks also go to INSIGHT-OUTSIDE for their support in organizing ICEF14, and to "La Maison HEBEL" for the quality of the catering, which contributed for a significant share to the success of ICEF14 thanks to a high quality French Cuisine.

    The Organizing Committee
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