lunduniversity.lu.se

Research in Food Studies

Lund University has a unique breadth in food research, from raw materials to the consumer. In addition to subject-specific research, major interdisciplinary research programmes are becoming increasingly common. Lund University works actively to highlight how different areas of knowledge in food research are related to each other and how together they can contribute to solutions for complex issues such as sustainability, climate and personal health.

Raw materials and agriculture

PlantLink is a collaboration between Lund University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU, Alnarp) in the area of plant research.  PlantLink sets out to bridge the gap between basic research and applied plant research with an aim to improve crops and food, and to enable the sustainable production of materials, medicine and energy from plants. Several world-leading research groups in this field are connected to PlantLink. 

PlantLink seeks to increase and improve interest and expertise in the area of plant research through education and information, and create an environment that promotes innovation and collaboration between academia and the business sector. The areas of research include:

  • Plant cultivation research, modelling and technology
  • After harvest – product quality and new products
  • Abiotic stress
  • Plant/microbe interaction
  • Interactions between plants and between plants and insects

Process and production

The Department of Food Technology, Engineering and Nutrition conducts research and education relating to most aspects of the food production chain, from raw materials to effects on consumers’ health. The research is characterised by an interdisciplinary focus on processing with the overall aim of optimising food in terms of convenience and customer-perceived quality. Basic and applied research is conducted in close collaboration, and well-developed interaction with the food industry means that new research findings can be rapidly utilised in new processes, technologies and products. This interaction is also of great importance for the advanced food programmes taught at the department. In addition there is research within pharmaceutical technology that utilises the many common scientific fundamentals for pharmaceuticals and food.

The European Spallation Source (ESS) and MAX IV are world-leading research facilities in materials science with many applications in areas such as packaging, food safety and food production processes.

The Centre for Analysis and Synthesis at the Faculty of Science focuses on developing analyses of the components of foo

Packaging and logistics

Packaging and logistics are two areas in which the region has long held a leading position. Companies such as Tetra Pak and Å&R Carton AB, and logistics companies such as Bring Frigoscandia and IKEA all have centres in the region. The Ingvar Kamprad Design Centre (IKDC, LTH) has a unique research and teaching environment, which takes an overall view of packaging and logistics.

The interdisciplinary environment integrates various fields of knowledge in order to achieve efficient and sustainable utilisation of resources throughout the value chain. Packaging logistics encompasses product and packaging design throughout the chain from raw material via all the involved parties to the end user and on to reuse. The applied research is often conducted in collaboration with the relevant industry. The main focus of the research concerns the importance of packaging for sustainable development in the supply chain. The role of packaging as product protection is an important element, as it contributes to both safer products and reduced product wastage. Research is also being conducted in the area of food and traceability in the supply chain, for which new innovations involving biosensors are being developed.

Innovation, economics and legal aspects

Research on the power of innovation in both individual food companies and in regional clusters is conducted at the School of Economics and Management and CIRCLE (Centre for Innovation, Research and Competence in the Learning Economy). The research concerns innovation from several perspectives linked to areas such as policy, regional and national growth, entrepreneurship and sustainability. A number of projects and researchers focus on the food sector. CIRCLE has access to extensive data from Statistics Sweden (SCB) that is of considerable use in the food sector. 

Research is conducted at the School of Economics and Management in food-related areas such as cluster analysis, public sector administration, international marketing of food, and brand analysis. There is also a course within Business Administration – Innovation Management – that focuses on innovation theories about different types of innovation and innovation processes within existing companies.

The AgriFood Economics Centre carries out advanced socio-economic analyses in the areas of food, agriculture, fisheries and rural development on behalf of the Government. The activities are a collaboration between the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Lund University.

The Division of Innovation Engineering at the Department of Design Sciences (IKDC, LTH) conducts research to strengthen innovation capabilities among individuals and groups within different types of organisations and collaborations. Research is needs-driven and conducted in close collaboration with a number of different involved parties from both the private and public sectors. A user-centric perspective is key and therefore methods that engage the public in the development of innovations are of particular interest. The activities have contributed to a strengthened innovation perspective within LTH and Lund University, by means such as participation in the Innovation Portal.

The Faculty of Law conducts research in EU law, environmental law and public law, which all have connections to food issues in areas such as sustainable development and public procurement.

Retail and the consumer

The Centre for Retail Research at Lund University is a centre of excellence for retail research involving researchers from the Faculty of Engineering (LTH), the School of Economics and Management and Campus Helsingborg. It is an interdisciplinary research environment with a focus on research about the flow of goods and the customer interface – two decisive factors in a functioning and efficient retail sector. 

Research on food culture and ethical aspects is a field of research at the Faculties of the Humanities and Theology. Research at the Humanities Lab is conducted on culture, communication and cognition with a humanities profile in close cooperation with science, medicine and technology. In the food sector, innovative studies have been carried out involving methods such as eye tracking to examine consumer behaviour in shops and reactions to different types of marketing. 

Several groups of researchers at the Faculty of Social Sciences are examining the theme of food and meals.  This concerns practices, ideas, norms, attitudes and policies. Everyday eating, family meals and workplace meals are aspects that have been closely studied. Another strand of research concerns the public discourse on food and the media’s depiction of food in news, campaigns, blogs and adverts. Other broad themes include shopping, lifestyle entrepreneurs and tourist experiences. The faculty’s research on food is interdisciplinary and varies greatly in terms of theoretical approach, method and empirical field of research from mass media accounts of individual relationships to diets, to food policy and sustainability

Health

The Faculty of Engineering (LTH) and the Faculty of Medicine conduct research that highlights the connection between diet and health in a variety of ways. At LTH the importance of the intestine’s bacterial flora is being studied in relation to diet, health and disease. The knowledge is applied in ways such as developing functional foods with added value for health to counteract and slow down the course of diseases, for example in diabetes, obesity, liver disease, stress, inflammatory bowel diseases and cancer development. A current collaboration with Bolivia and Mozambique is being conducted with support from Sida with an aim to increase the bioavailability of vitamins and minerals in local food, in order to reduce the risk of malnutrition in low-income countries. Projects are also being conducted to strengthen innovative food production in Sweden concerning vegetables, with an aim to increase consumption for improved public health and also reduce food wastage relating to handling, processing and consumption.

The connection between diet and common diseases such as cancer and diabetes is being studied at the Faculty of Medicine in a number of research projects. Studies are also being conducted into the healing conditions for cells in the gastrointestinal tract’s mucous membrane, which has a number of applications, including the development of food with benefits for health. Other current projects are examining the medicinal effects of fibre, antioxidants and other bioactive substances, as well as the health effects of a fibre-rich Scandinavian diet. Within nutritional epidemiology, studies are being carried out in areas such as the connections of diet to prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammation and hereditary factors. These areas, as well as dietary habits as a whole, are examined using statistical pattern recognition methods and dietary indices. Research to improve our understanding of the mechanisms behind the onset of obesity and diseases that are associated with high fat intakes is being conducted with a focus on appetite regulation and energy intake. 

Research within Medical Microbiology is being carried out on lactic acid bacteria in honey, which has application areas for both food and medicine, and for the bees’ own health. Studies within evolutionary medicine are examining areas such as Palaeolithic diet and its health effects. 

The Functional Food Science Centre conducts research that aims to develop foods that can counteract the development of obesity and associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The centre is located in Medicon Village. This is also the base for the Food for Health Laboratory where meal and diet interventions are carried out on healthy test subjects. The Antidiabetic Food Centre (AFC) – is one of the strong research and innovation environments within VINNOVA’s programme VINN Excellence Centre. The centre’s business idea is to counteract the development of diabetes using innovative food concepts through joint venture research and the promotion of research-based business initiatives. 

EXODIAB (Excellence in Diabetes Research in Sweden) is a collaboration between Lund University and Uppsala University (Lund 70%, Uppsala 30%) within a research programme on the treatment of diabetes. It includes genetics, cell biology, epidemiology, nutritional research and clinical research. The aim is to develop tools to prevent and treat diabetes by describing the molecular processes that cause different types of diabetes. EXODIAB works actively on innovation matters for the transfer of research results and ideas to users, and to create a national resource to stimulate diabetes research in Sweden and recruit tomorrow’s diabetes researchers.

Studies within Functional Zoology include an examination of the effects of food components on the gastrointestinal tract’s development and function.