Our Business Fields

Examples From the Institutes

Selection of Projects of our Partner Institutes


»Cognitive Agriculture«

Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project »Cognitive Agriculture«, which brings productivity and sustainability of agricultural processes into harmony. Digitization as an opportunity for agriculture.

  • COGNAC (iese.fraunhofer.de)


In times of a rapidly growing world population and advancing climate change, crop yields can only be ensured by new methods. In order to establish high-yielding plant stands, the germinating seed must be supplied with sufficient water and protected from site-competing weeds. The aim of the Fraunhofer project is therefore to develop complex seed coatings to protect and supply the seedling.


Progress for a More Sustainable Food Industry

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and its Center for Biogenic Value Creation and Smart Farming are using the combined expertise of five Fraunhofer institutes to plan the entire food value chain in order to reorganize it in terms of sustainability as well as to aid businesses in the food industry with their transformation process.


Real-Time Analytics for Grain Harvesting

What is the quality of the grain? How much protein and oil does the grain contain? The Fraunhofer IFF is developing measurement methods that will enable barley or wheat to be analyzed in real time in the future. In the future, farmers will be able to document the quality of their goods site-specifically during harvest...


Sensors and Actuators for Smart Farming

The current nutrition systems are both drivers and victims of ecological changes endangering the agricultural productivity. Long-term retainment of natural resources requires more sustainability in agricultural production including animal farming; economical efficiency, social fairness and ecological viability. A promising and pragmatic approach for combining economic and ecologic goals in food production is the deployment of modern information and communication technologies in agricultural production - also known as smart farming. This is where the Fraunhofer EMFT competences in sensor and actuator technologies enter the scene.


Radiographic and Optical Monitoring of Plants and Seeds

At the beginning of the food chain for humans and animals are plants. Due to the increasing use of arable land for bioenergy production, the yield efficiency of crops is a growing challenge for seed producers and breeders. Optical methods offer excellent opportunities for quality control and optimization in plant breeding and seed production.



As part of the FishSenseWell project, a consortium comprising Fraunhofer IZFP and the Saarbrücken-based SEAWATER Cubes GmbH is conducting a study to provide an overview of all signal variables from recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). Their aim here is to systematically search for additional, indirect measurement variables, find redundancies, reduce the number of sensors in the system and, as far as possible, replace expensive or complex measuring principles with simpler measurement variables.


Innovative Plant Breeding

Plants are our primary source of food and raw materials. In order to achieve some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as "No Hunger" and "Sustainable Consumption and Production", we need to make many adjustments. One of the most important strategies is to provide optimized food and industrial crops produced through modern, innovative plant breeding.


Colorful Potatoes

Seven plant species provide the staple food for the whole world, including the potato! Colorful potatoes are not only beautiful to look at, but also promote health: They contain larger quantities of colored, secondary plant substances, so-called anthocyanins, which have a health-promoting function. They are also an efficient source of starch. To make them available to as many people as possible, researchers at Fraunhofer IME developed molecular tools for the targeted breeding of such potatoes.


Individualisation of Food Production

The desire of consumers for individual or customized products requires that the path of digitization of food production and processing be integrated and innovative.


A Novel Process for the Pasteurization of Milk by Microwaves

For the preservation of dairy products, microorganisms contained therein must be completely or partially killed by increasing the product temperature. In the EU-funded MicroMilk project, a pan-European consortium comprising companies from the dairy industry, microwave technology and automation engineering, research institutes and universities has developed a promising technology for heating milk using microwaves.


Stabilization of Fruit Juices and Wine Without Preservatives

Biogenic substances such as food must be stabilized for storage or transport by inactivating the microbiological contamination. Established food preservation processes such as heat sterilization or pasteurization often have the disadvantage of destroying valuable heat-sensitive food ingredients such as vitamins, thus reducing the nutritional value...


Active Packaging

Fresh to the table. Meat, sausage, cheese and fruit can usually only be bought packaged in supermarkets. Active packaging, which consumes oxygen, regulates moisture and reduces bacteria, protects food and extends its shelf life. Active packaging protects food...


Food and Oxygen

The shelf life of most packaged foods is affected by oxygen. Oxidation alters value-giving ingredients and leads to quality losses such as loss of aroma substances and vitamins, formation of off-flavors, structural changes due to oxidation of proteins...



»FutureProteins« – For a Resilient and Sustainable Production of Protein

Recent decades have seen an increase in intensive agricultural practices involving the use of large quantities of fertilizers and pesticides. This has had a substantial impact on the environment. In combination with the effects of climate change, this is set to affect the supply of protein.


Delicious Vegetable - Ice Cream with Lupine Proteins

Summer without ice cream - hardly imaginable for many. But those who cannot tolerate milk or lactose often have to do without. Fraunhofer researchers now offer an alternative: "Lupinesse" - the purely vegetable delicacy is free of lactose and cholesterol and contains valuable lupine protein. The ice cream is available at EDEKA.


The Vegetarian Cutlet

It looks like a schnitzel, it is juicy and fibrous like a schnitzel, and it even chews like a real schnitzel - but the ingredients are 100 percent vegetable. Researchers are using a new process to produce meat substitutes that not only taste good, but are also sustainable.


Production of Choux Pastry without Preservatives

Contaminating microorganisms lead to spoilage of fresh goods, sometimes even forming life-threatening toxins. Food must therefore be sterilized as far as possible and filled or packaged under hygienic conditions. Traditional methods of preservation, such as heat sterilization, have the disadvantage that they destroy valuable heat-sensitive ingredients of the food, such as vitamins, and thus reduce the nutritional value...


Research for the Perfect Steak

Summer, sun, grilling time. You think you've chosen a good piece of meat from the refrigerated counter, put it on the grill, and in a flash it's shrunk by half and is as tough as an old shoe sole. Whether the steak is tender on the grill depends less on the cooking method than on the meat itself. Only through proper storage and aging does it become tender, aromatic and digestible. So that we can fully enjoy the grilling season in the future, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT are creating a concept for monitoring dry aging for tasty meat enjoyment.



Fresh on the Table Thanks to SAFEFRESH and Sensors

In the summer it is again particularly large: The desire for fresh! Salad, fruit, vegetables - preferably practically pre-cut from the refrigerated section. Together with freshly grilled fish and meat, you can quickly conjure up a light menu for hot days.


Vertical Farming System “OrbiPlant®”

Continuous, pesticide-free and sustainable farming of plant-based food inside buildings? This is possible with “OrbiPlant®”, an innovative, automated vertical farming system developed by the Fraunhofer IME for efficient and cost-effective large-scale farming processes.

Product Protection and Analytics


From Feed to Egg

Better estimation of overall burdens of humans, animals and the environmment by perfluoroalkyland polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Due to their unique properties perfluoroalkyl- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are widely utilised in specialty chemistry as well as in consumer products of any kind. The extreme stability of PFAS leads to their accumulation in the environment and organisms.



A Food Lab on Your Phone

The topic "food scanner" is gaining in importance. The European Commission has also recognised the importance of this issue.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS in Dresden has filed a patent application for an idea that not only enables the analysis of foodstuffs with a smartphone.


Optical Analysis of Food Maturity Assessment

Ripeness assessment with the aid of a near-infrared spectrometer. Even visually perfect fruits and vegetables can have very large differences in quality when it comes to taste and shelf life. Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS in Dresden can use near-infrared spectral analysis to find out how ripe a pear or tomato is.


Gas Sensor Technology for the Food Chain

Compact measurement systems for rapid food testing. Measurement systems for food tests should be deployable on site and provide reliable results in a short time. A compact gas chromatography system developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM and Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME determines volatile organic compounds (VOCs) quickly and reliably.


FoodControl - For a Better Food Quality

Tea e.g. promises enjoyment and well-being. In Germany, every citizen drinks an average of about 70 liters a year. To ensure this enjoyment, it must be processed to meet the highest quality requirements.


Sorting Technology for Grapes

The winegrowers of Cleebronn & Güglingen tested a new sorting method from Fraunhofer Research during the grape harvest. The multiple award-winning winemakers are always looking for new ways to improve their products even further. Fraunhofer IOSB in Karlsruhe has been a renowned specialist for many years when it comes to the automatic sorting of bulk materials. As their latest application, the researchers have now developed a process with which grapes can be optimally utilized.


Food Quality Control

The traceability of food or sensitive goods such as pharmaceuticals is becoming increasingly important in times of globalized markets. With modern technology, production and logistics in the food industry can be efficiently and seamlessly monitored, documented and controlled.


Sorting Systems with Camera Technology from UV to NIR

Just as naturally as we expect inexpensive food in the supermarket, we assume that the food on offer meets the highest quality standards. This is only possible because food is produced according to industrial standards. As the demands placed on products continue to rise, so do the requirements for their inspection and for the sorting that is often necessary.


3D Light Section Measuring Technology

In the light section method, a light line is projected onto the test object and recorded with a special camera at an angle to the projection direction. A height profile is calculated from the course of the light line. By moving the object through the light line, the entire surface can be recorded. Shadowing by structures can be avoided by using multiple cameras or lasers.


Harmful or useful?

How to test new foods and active ingredients

How do certain active ingredients pass through the intestinal barrier? Do intestinal diseases have an influence on food intake?
These and similar questions can be answered with the help of in vitro intestinal models developed at the Fraunhofer Translational Center for Regenerative Therapies TLC-RT.


Intelligent Recyclable Packaging

How fresh is the food? Has the cold chain been maintained?

By means of supraparticles, which are easily integrated into or onto packaging or other products (also recyclable/compostable), numerous sensory functions such as time-temperature indicators (TTI), freshness/gases or mechanical effects can be detected and read out visually or also digitally. At the same time, packaging remains recyclable.


Quick and Easy Detection of Plant Pathogens

Plant pests are a major threat to crop production worldwide. This has increased dramatically in recent years, with between 20 and 40 percent of global crop production lost to pests. Globalization, trade and climate change play an important role here. Researchers at Fraunhofer IME are therefore developing simple tests for the detection of plant pathogens, e.g. potato viruses.


MESHFREE - a powerful simulation tool

MESHFREE meets the challenges of the food industry with innovative simulation. The software solution can be used to calculate and virtually implement almost all processes and procedures that are the focus of the industry in practice.

Circular Economy and Sustainability


»Resilient Systems for Safe Food - ResearchL«

The food industry is characterized by highly interconnected value chains of both a very local and global nature. If nothing else, the coronavirus crisis showed us that resilience to any type of disruption is increasingly becoming a decisive competitive advantage. But what does a resilient value chain look like?


BioSuck - Vaccum Waste and Save Water

The project BioSuck aims at establishing a decision support system (DSS) that forces a redesign of the food processing industry with regard to an optimized waste collection system. This shall work via vacuum lines and subsequent processing of concentrated waste into bioenergy or recycling of nutrients. The redesign will save a significant quantity of water, because it requires considerably less water for cleaning purposes when waste is sucked off. This will accordingly decrease the disposed wastewater and thus reduce costs. The concentrated waste (high organic load fraction) can further be used for a self supply with nutrients (fertilizer, food or feeding purposes) and/or bioenergy generated by subsequent processes (biogas, bioethanol, hydrothermal carbonization).


SUSMILK - »Green Dairy«

Milk, quark and cheese are part of our daily bread. How energy, water and carbon dioxide emissions can be saved in the production of such foods is shown by the EU project SUSMILK, which has just started. Under the leadership of Fraunhofer UMSICHT, the 21 project partners are developing components that, through their use in existing dairy infrastructures, contribute to the sustainable processing of milk and a redesign of the dairy industry. The EU project SUSMILK will be funded for the next three years by the 7th Research Framework Program (FP7) of the European Commission.



Development of an interactive sensor system in order to collect animal activities:

The German Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is supporting the SmartPigHome project with 1.6 million euros as part of the Federal Program for Livestock Husbandry. The joint project involves the development of an interactive game system focused on animal welfare, creating a smart barn environment for pigs and optimizing it as the “mood in the barn” changes.


Biodegradable Mulching Papers for Sustainable Agriculture

Mulch films are indispensable in agriculture thanks to their versatile functions. However, they are made of oil-based plastics, which significantly pollute agricultural soils and the environment. In the joint project »NewHyPe«, a sustainable solution to existing mulch films is therefore being developed to replace microplastic-generating plastic products with bio-based alternatives.

Value Networks


Easy-to-Digest Data

How long was the yogurt on the way? How fresh are the tomatoes? Where does the steak come from? Thanks to food chain management questions can be answered quickly and reliably.

The customer is king. Food retailers offer them a huge range of  delicacies a huge assortment of delicacies day in, day out: There are apples from South Tyrol and New Zealand; tomatoes from Spain, Holland or Italy, milk, butter and yogurt from the Bavarian mountains
Ireland, Bulgaria or Schleswig-Holstein...


Smart Sensors Monitor Food Quality

The traceability of food or sensitive goods such as pharmaceuticals is becoming increasingly important in times of globalized markets. With modern technology, production and logistics in the food industry can be efficiently and seamlessly monitored, documented and controlled entirely and efficiently. 


Food Chain Management Knowledge Platform

Losses due to spoilage occur at every stage of the food chain. In the case of  fruit and vegetables, just half of the goods reach the food retail trade. The  spoiled fruit and vegetables incur additional costs for removal and disposal.  The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft's Economic-Strategic Alliance (WISA) Food  Chain Management addresses this problem by looking at processes for  quality, safety and transparency in the food chain...

Overview of the bodies in which the Fraunhofer Agriculture and Food Industry Alliance is represented in

  • BioZ - Biobasierte Innovationen aus Zeitz und Mitteldeutschland
  • Bitkom: Digitalisierung der Landwirtschaft
  • Bundesverband der Pharmazeutischen Industrie e.V (BPI)
  • Bündnis »Wir retten Lebensmittel!«
  • DAFA Deutsche Agrarforschungsallianz
  • DECHEMA Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e.V.
  • DWA - The network of experts for water, wastewater and waste
  • EHEDG - European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group
  • ENFIT - International Association Supply Chain Safety e.V.
  • European Bioplastics e. V.
  • FEI The Research Association of the German Food Industry
  • Food-Processing Initiative e.V. (FPI)
  • GEOkomm - Verband der GeoInformationswirtschaft Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.
  • German Federal Insititute for Risk Assessment (BfR)
  • IVLV - Industrievereinigung für Lebensmitteltechnologie und Verpackung
  • PREVENT Abfall Allianz (BMZ)   
  • PROVEG International
  • VDMA Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau
  • ZLV - Zentrum für Lebensmittel- und Verpackungstechnologie e.V.    



Rapid Testing of Food Quality with Near Infrared

The sight of pineapple in the supermarket makes your mouth water. But when you get home, you are disappointed to discover that the pineapple you bought is neither sweet nor juicy. When shopping for food, customers often have to rely on their luck. In the future, a spectrometer will reveal the quality of food. The device is no bigger than a sugar cube, can be produced cheaply and could even fit into smartphones.

»Edible Innovations« Study in the area of tension between technological progress and technology rejection among consumers

Today, consumers are faced with numerous innovations. Intelligent and networked logistics systems demand his attention just as much as individualized food from the 3D printer. Can technologically advanced food compete with grandmother's lovingly prepared apple pie?

Workshop Securing the International Fruit and Vegetable Chain - a Plus for Health

Securing the international fruit and vegetable chain was the topic of the 1st workshop organized by the Fraunhofer Food Chain Management Alliance on February 8, 2011 at the Fraunhofer Forum in Berlin. In addition to the numerous participants from the industry, the exciting contributions of Mathias Bratzler (Bratzler & Co and presidium of the DFHV. e.V.) , Federik Callens (GLOBALG.A.P), Dr. Carsten Fauhl-Hassek (BfR), Norbert Reichl (Food Processing Initiative e.V.) as well as the representatives of the Fraunhofer Alliance contributed to the very positive response.


Fraunhofer Fireside Chat Food Chain Management

In January 2008, representatives from industry, authorities and associations met for a fireside chat at the SAS Radisson in Berlin. The event focused on the question: »How can we positively influence food chain management in Germany?«