Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council, is looking forward to presenting interesting food-related research during National Science Week this autumn. He is also hoping there will be items to sample, as here at the 2008 Oslo Science Fair. (Photo: Anne Ditlefsen)
Visitors to the events being organised across the country will gain insight into phenomena such as why parents find certain foods delicious while their children wrinkle their noses at the same tastes. Another key topic will be research on ensuring plentiful, safe and healthy food for a growing global population.
“Food is never just about food,” says Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council. “Food is also politics, culture and religion. Food concerns all of us, every day. We talk about food, we have opinions about it, we read all about food and nutrition in the media. But how much do we actually know about what we eat and the impacts of our eating habits on the rest of the world?”
NOK 835 million in funding for food-related research
The Research Council allocated roughly NOK 835 million for research on food-related topics in 2014. Just over half of this went to agriculture-based food production, known as the green sector, while somewhat less went to seafood sector research and 17 per cent went to research of relevance to both agriculture and seafood.
Statistics show that one-fourth of the research carried out relates to the topic global food supply. The topics food, health and well-being and safe food value chain comprised roughly 10 per cent each of all food-related research.
The Project Databank provides an overview of all the food-related research projects that have received Research Council funding. (Figures are to be updated in the course of March.)
Children like fish! People’s perception of taste varies widely, but attitudes are also a major factor in determining which foods they like. (Photo: Sverre Jarild)
From basic research to innovation
The Norwegian food research community features a large number of dynamic research institutes in both the agricultural and the marine sectors. Roughly 70 per cent of Norwegian food-related research is carried out by these institutes. Among the higher education institutions, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Ås accounts for well over half of the research activities, while the University of Oslo and the University of Bergen each conduct a significant amount of research as well.
Nearly 12 per cent of publicly funded food-related research is carried out by trade and industry. Companies may receive funding for innovation projects via a variety of Research Council programmes and schemes. The food industry is also involved as partners in many projects carried out at the research institutes and in cooperation with several of the Centres for Research-based Innovation (SFI) which have food as a focus area.