CHICAGO – April 18, 2024 – The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a nonprofit scientific organization with global members spanning academia, government, and industry, has released a white paper that examines how underutilized and biofortified crops could help improve global food and nutrition security. Food Science and Technology Solutions to Improve Food and Nutrition Security: Advancing the Use of Underutilized and Biofortified Crops examines benefits, opportunities, and challenges surrounding underutilized or “orphan” crops, such as sorghum, taro, and pawpaw, as well as biofortified crops, which are staple foods (i.e., corn, beans, and potatoes) that have increased levels of key micronutrients to help feed deficient populations.

The white paper explores the transformative potential of these crops in the global food system: for example, only 170 plants out of an estimated 30,000 edible species are currently cultivated on a commercial scale.

“Underutilized and biofortified crops provide a myriad of nutritional, economic, and global benefits, from promoting diet diversity to elevating indigenous knowledge to ensuring climate resilience. Unfortunately, despite these benefits, there are consumer acceptance, technological, and supply chain challenges in scaling the adoption of these important crops,” said IFT Chief Science and Technology Officer Bryan Hitchcock. “This white paper identifies concrete steps that can be taken to increase the usage of underutilized and biofortified crops and reap the benefits of these highly nutritious crops throughout our global food system.”

The white paper also includes case studies featuring innovative researchers, organizations, and companies that have already championed the use of these crops to advance the global food and nutrition security and bring consumer-accepted goods to market. The case studies illustrate potential breakthroughs in the use of these crops such as utilizing African orange flesh sweet potato in baked goods to add nutrition and overcome a “food of the poor” stigma, creating ready-to-eat products with millet and lentil to appeal to Indian consumers, and elevating indigenous knowledge in Tanzania to create next-gen processing equipment for grinding sorghum and millet.

Food Science and Technology Solutions to Improve Food and Nutrition Security: Advancing the Use of Underutilized and Biofortified Crops is the result of a virtual roundtable discussion organized by IFT’s Food & Nutrition Security Steering Committee (FNSSC) that focused on identifying current challenges, solutions, and opportunities for food science and technology to accelerate the adoption of underutilized and biofortified crops. FNSSC, formed in 2021, previously conducted a roundtable on processing technology to improve sustainability and nutrition, resulting in a white paper released in December 2023.

Additionally, a recent Brain Food Blog features an interview about underutilized and biofortified crops with Kiruba Krishnaswamy, PhD, who served as a panelist in the roundtable discussion on underutilized and biofortified crops.

To download the white paper, visit Food Science and Technology Solutions to Improve Food and Nutrition Security: Advancing the Use of Underutilized and Biofortified Crops.

Food and nutrition security will be a prominent theme at this year’s IFT FIRST including a featured session on “Empowering Food & Nutrition Security: A Vision for Health Equity and Impactful Partnerships.” Speakers from the USDA, WeightWatchers, and Tufts University will convene to discuss how muti-disciplinary collaborations can create food science solutions that will play critical roles in achieving food and nutrition security. Meanwhile, “IFT Scientific Journals Special Session: Ultra-processed Foods (UPFs)” will bring together leading researchers and food experts to discuss the scientific understanding of an often contentious food category. Additionally, over 1,000 exhibitors will spotlight their trailblazing products and solutions on the expo floor of the largest global food science and innovation expo.

IFT FIRST will take place July 14-17, 2024, at McCormick Place in Chicago. To register for IFT FIRST, visit IFT FIRST Registration.

About Institute of Food Technologists

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a global organization of over 11,000 individual members from more than 100 countries committed to advancing the science of food. Since 1939, IFT has brought together the brightest minds in food science, technology and related professions from academia, government, and industry to solve the world’s greatest food challenges. IFT works to ensure that its members have the resources they need to learn, grow, and innovate to advance the science of food as the population and the world evolve. IFT believes that science and innovation is essential to ensuring a global food supply that is sustainable, safe, nutritious, and accessible to all. For more information, please visit ift.org.

Media Contact

Dennis Van Milligen
Director, Public and Media Relations
Institute of Food Technologists
630-853-3022
[email protected]

More IFT Press Releases

Cornell University’s Martin Wiedmann Honored with IFT Achievement Award for Microbial Research in Food Safety

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is pleased to announce that Martin Wiedmann, PhD, Gellert Family Professor of Food Safety at Cornell University, has been awarded IFT’s Achievements in Microbial Research for Food Safety Award in honor of Gerhard J. Haas, which recognizes an IFT member who has demonstrated innovative research in microbial aspects of food safety assurance.

North Carolina State University’s Clint Stevenson Honored with IFT Achievement Award for Excellence in Education

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is pleased to announce that Clint Stevenson, PhD, Associate Professor at North Carolina State University, has been awarded IFT’s Excellence in Education Award in honor of William V. Cruess, which recognizes an IFT member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching science of food disciplines.

University of Georgia’s Rakesh K. Singh Honored with IFT’s Distinguished Career Award

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is pleased to announce that Rakesh K. Singh, PhD, Professor at University of Georgia, has been awarded IFT’s Distinguished Career Award in honor of Carl R. Fellows, which honors an IFT member who has brought distinguished recognition to the science of food community through a career of exemplary contributions to academia, industry, or government.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s Hao Feng Named 2024 IFT Fellow, One of the Highest Honors in the Food Science Community

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is pleased to announce Hao Feng, PhD, Blue Cross Blue Shield Endowed Professor of Urban Food Systems and Professor of Food Bioprocess Engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, has been selected as a 2024 IFT Fellow, one of the highest honors bestowed upon a member of the science of food community.

Student Food Competition Focuses on Improving the Quality of Life for People in Developing Countries

The Institute of Food Technologists Student Association (IFTSA) has announced the finalists for the IFTSA Developing Solutions for Developing Countries (DSDC) Product Development Competition.

Latest News

Subscribe to Food Technology

Subscribe to Food Technology magazine to stay current on the latest developments and research in the science of food.

Beefing Up the Benefits of Tomatoes

Hear from an Ohio State researcher who's probing the vegetable's potential for human health and working to maximize its nutritional advantage.

Mattson Announces Expansion Into Chicago, IFT Releases White Paper on Underutilized Crops

Innovations, research, and insights in food science, product development, and consumer trends. 

Summer Priority #1: Attend IFT FIRST

IFT President Sean Leighton previews IFT FIRST 2024.

Latest IFT Podcasts

EP 37: The Future of Product Innovation, Kelp in the Culinary Landscape, The Wonderful World of Fermentation

Learn from the brightest minds in food science and technology in the June 2024 episodes of the Omnivore podcast.

EP 36: Exploring ‘Nutrition’s Dark Matter,’ EPR Packaging Hits the U.S., Naandi Foundation on GFSC

The May episodes of Omnivore feature not-to-be-missed expert commentary on the latest food system innovations, challenges, and cutting-edge science.

EP 35: Global Food System Challenge, Business Skills in Food Science Curricula, Feeding the Food Science Talent Pipeline

The May episodes of Omnivore feature not-to-be-missed expert commentary on the latest food system innovations, challenges, and cutting-edge science.

EP 25: The EPA’s Recipe for Food Sustainability

In this episode, we explore the collaborative efforts from the EPA, USDA, and FDA in formulating a national strategy to halve food loss and waste by 2030.

EP 34: Food Systems Changemaker, Additive Bans Conundrum, Battling Biofilms

Get the latest expert insights into the world of food science and technology in the April 2024 episodes of the Omnivore podcast, brought to you from Food Technology magazine.