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Research into carbohydrates shows promising results for healthy food and BioBased Economy

09 April 2014

Over the past few years, the Carbohydrate Competence Center (CCC) in Groningen has developed a number of highly successful new applications for carbohydrates. Examples include new or improved carbohydrate fibres for children’s food, slow-digesting carbohydrates for healthier food and polymers from biomass for making plastic bottles in the future. The results of the research will be presented during an open day at the CCC in Groningen on Friday 11 April. King’s Commissioner in Groningen, Max van den Berg, and director of the Northern Netherlands Provinces Alliance SNN, Eise van der Sluis, will be officially presented with the final report.

Carbohydrates are an essential part of human and animal diet and play a vital role in many industrial applications. They are produced on a large scale in the form of potato starch, beet sugar and lactose on agricultural and cattle farms in the Northern Netherlands. As well as being used in foods, carbohydrates are also useful in the Chemistry, Paper, Textiles, Pharmacy, Medicine, Cosmetics and Energy sectors.

Knowledge enhances competitive position

Investing in CCC carbohydrate research via regional, national and European programmes (SNN, Top sectors, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO, EU) provides international opportunities in socially relevant sectors, such as Healthy Ageing and the efficient deployment of green resources (Biobased Economy). CCC knowledge enhances the global competitive position of the Dutch Agri & Food sector in general, and that of the Northern Netherlands potato, sugar and dairy processing sectors more specifically.

Strong ties with the Northern Netherlands

The Northern Netherlands is a logical, strategic location for the CCC. Ample supplies of sugar beet, potato, grain, maize and dairy produce make this agricultural area an ideal base for carbohydrate-driven industry in companies such as Royal Cosun (Suikerunie), AVEBE, HZPC, Agrifirm, FrieslandCampina and Smurfit Kappa. The CCC organizes cooperation between industry and the knowledge institutes via joint research projects on carbohydrates. Although the affiliated companies operate in various segments of the market, the CCC enables them to work together in precompetitive research projects.

Key player on the global market

The Netherlands is the second largest global exporter of Agri & Food products after the United States. The Agri & Food sector accounts for 48% of all Dutch goods export. Carbohydrates play a major role. They are one of the main ingredients of many agricultural and food products. The Carbohydrate Competence Center (CCC) in Groningen is a key national and international player in terms of knowledge and innovative research into carbohydrates.

The University of Groningen and Wageningen University & Research centre cooperate with four other knowledge institutes, nineteen companies and the government in the CCC consortium, to work on excellent demand-driven academic carbohydrate research. More than € 17 million has been invested in the CCC1 research programme (2009-end 2013). Highly successful new applications and high-quality products have increased Dutch competitive power. Examples include new or improved carbohydrate fibres (children’s food; containing and limiting the drawbacks of using antibiotics), slow-digesting carbohydrates for healthy food (slow/low carbohydrates to tackle obesity and type 2 diabetes) and polymers from biomass (new precursors from beet pulp, for making plastic bottles in the future, for example).


Between 2009 and 2013, the CCC1 programme has delivered 9 patents/patent applications (including the intended applications) and acquired € 27.7 million in investments (multiplier factor 1.6), € 10.3 million of which came from the companies taking part (cash and in kind) through new CCC research programmes. The programme has also resulted in more in-depth CCC1 knowledge, and valorization of this knowledge. In terms of academic output, the knowledge institutes participating in CCC1 have produced 91 academic publications and 17 PhDs.

More information

The Carbohydrate Competence Center (CCC) final report will be presented to the King´s Commissioner in Groningen, Max van den Berg, and director of the Northern Netherlands Provinces Alliance SNN, Eise van der Sluis, at 4.30 p.m. on Friday 11 April. The official presentation will take place at the Hampshire Hotel Plaza Groningen, Laan Corpus den Hoorn 300. You can register via Gernant Deekens , spokesman for the University of Groningen.

Last modified:13 March 2020 02.18 a.m.
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