Marc Hendrickx

Rethinking food processing in a changing world: fruit and vegetable-based foods and ingredients

Prof. Marc Hendrickx1

1KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

Throughout the past decades food processing has substantially changed. The initial solutions for large scale production of safe convenience foods resulted in products that suffered from a quality point of view (e.g., reduction/changes in taste, flavour, colour, nutritional value). While substantial improvements in food quality have been achieved by using specific ingredients and process optimization, recent challenges in producing high-quality, nutritionally balanced foods demand innovative approaches.

In the context of current trends such as clean label, all natural, health foods, sustainable production, and low environmental impact, creating foods with optimal functional properties requires leveraging the endogenous potential of (new) raw materials by use of (new) subtle and mild processing techniques. Functional properties must be built in into the raw materials used (not being compromised by processing) or must be brought to expression during processing. One of the key challenges lies in translating the desired food functional properties, through reverse engineering into the sustainable use of raw materials (adapted for climate change) and their processing into food products and ingredients.

Recent evolutions and innovations in (i) food processing technologies (e.g., high pressure-based processing technologies, pulsed electric fields) and (ii) research methodologies (e.g., analytical platforms including omics approaches, visualization techniques at different length scales and advanced image analysis, large scale data analysis, modelling and digital twins and in vitro / in silico digestion models) offer solutions to tackle the challenges ahead. The mechanistic understanding of the (bio)-chemical and physical changes and their kinetics as influenced by the material properties and processing conditions, throughout the food chain from raw material up to digestion, remain a scientific cornerstone for product and process development.

The presentation includes examples from the field of fruit and vegetable-based foods and food ingredients.


Marc Hendrickx is senior professor Food Technology at KU Leuven.

The research of professor Hendrickx focuses on the understanding and quantification of process structure function relations of food systems during processing and preservations with focus on mechanisms and kinetics. Prof. M. Hendrickx has been involved in multiple multi-partner large scale EU funded research projects (in the fields of thermal processing, high pressure processing and pulsed electric field processing), and Marie Curie Training Networks.

His research output summarizes in over 600 peer review publications, numerous conference and workshop contributions and books.  Google scholar mentions 38000 citations and an h-index of 105.

Recent recognitions include:

2022 EFFoST Lifetime Achievement Award;

2018: First Harraways 1867 Visiting Prof. Award, University of Otago, New Zealand;

2017: Ranked Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher in the domain of Agricultural Sciences;

2016: Fellow ‘International Academy of Food Science and Technology’ (IAFoST), Ireland;

2015: Lifetime Achievement Award from ‘International Association for Engineering and Food’ (IAEF).