Project news A new market for by-products of Belgian endive, endive and radicchio

Belgian endive leaves and a glass bottle with light yellow liquid
Components from crops of the Cichorium family are of interest for food and beverage production or as building blocks in the production of biomaterials.

The production and processing of the leafy vegetables Belgian endive, radicchio and endive and the industrial processing of chicory for the production of inulin generate a stream of by-products. Within the new CichOpt project, European partners want to upgrade these by-products into ingredients for food and drinks, as well as for cosmetics and biomaterials.

Valorisation of the by-products from Cichorium crops

Belgian endive, endive and radicchio - all part of the Cichorium genus - are not major 'cash crops' in Europe, but in some regions they are of great economic importance. The by-products from this regional production are substantial, but until now have been underutilized. In order to upgrade those by-products and to find applications in, among others, the food & pharmaceutical sectors, an international project was started: CichOpt. ILVO is coordinator.

Mapping the most interesting components

The project partners are working on a cascade system for biorefinery, using selected bio-based applications. Target components are dietary fibers, free sugars, sesquiterpene lactones and polyphenols. Their presence will be investigated in the different Cichorium crops, in the different parts of those vegetables (leaf, root) and in the residual flows and by-products generated during processing. These target components will be tested as ingredients of food and beverages. Such applications are promising, especially in light of the rising trend in vegetarian/vegan, natural, local and clean label products. In addition, the use as a building block in manufacturing biomaterials in packaging, bottles and clothing will also be looked at. The research also includes molecular analysis, which will provide valuable information for the development of a long-term strategy for Cichorium species. For example, new targets can be formulated for breeding towards 'tailor-made species'. These can be species with a specific taste, but also species with a high content of a certain target component.

New opportunities for producers

Through breeding, selection and production, the project can offer new opportunities to producers of Belgian endive, endive and radicchio. For example, the effects of climate change can be anticipated and the number of varieties with different characteristics can be diversified. Moreover, by-products and residual flows, which now cost money to the producer and processor, can be transformed into products that generate additional income.

Project title: CichOpt

Term: 2018 - 2021


Partners: Inagro, Wageningen Plant Research, Nationale Proeftuin voor Witloof, University of Hohenheim, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

Logo: Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE-JPI), de europese vlag


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Bart Van Droogenbroeck

Expert in plant based products and by-products

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