“Food value chain” Formation of food value chain through value addition of food resources to support sustainable rural development

Related Research Program
Value-adding Technologies


“Food value chain” Formation of food value chain through value addition of food resources to support sustainable rural development

Our daily food is transferred from harvested materials to marketable products through a process that ensures reliability for human consumption. In order to formulate this scheme, the producer side should be able to supply high quality food that satisfies consumers’ needs and preferences. Additionally, the scheme should be profitable for the producer side and to people engaged in processing and distribution so they can maintain their activities. If the scheme is coordinated and functions effectively, it could be called a “Food Value Chain (FVC).” Value addition is a key word in the formation of an FVC; however, the criteria for determining value addition, which could be generated anywhere within the chain-link or steps (from production to consumption) are not clearly defined. In this project, we will investigate not only individual technological developments relating to food processing and distribution but also the effectiveness of FVC formation for specific food products, with due consideration to the interrelation between consecutive steps.

The project’s major collaborative institutes are located in Thailand, Lao PDR, and China. These countries have a wide variety of local and traditional food resources as well as a great deal of tacit knowledge about food processing (Figs. 1-3). However, although many among these food resources contain potentially high functionality or high added value, they have not yet been scientifically evaluated. Also, problems still remain regarding technologies for producing high quality food and for establishing a distribution system in these areas. Therefore, it would be meaningful to discover and analyze the present state of food resource utilization and to provide solutions for effective utilization as the bases of formation of an FVC.

The project activity consists of the following four major subjects: The first is to develop a method to evaluate food quality through scientific analysis of materials in local food resources such as underutilized food components, cereal, and fermented foods whose quality and functionality have not yet been identified. The second is to develop a technology to produce food that is high quality and has high functionality based on tacit knowledge of traditional cereal or fermented food processing technologies. The third is to develop effective strategies to formulate an FVC through analysis of distribution and consumption characteristics, focusing on rice and fermented foods and applicable to areas under various economic levels. The fourth is to develop methods to evaluate the effectivity of an FVC formed for a specific food product and also, to examine the applicability of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) to enhance the added value of the products.

Fig.1. Traditional salty-fermented freshwater fish paste “pa-daek” sold at a market in Lao PDR

Fig.2. Various brands of rice displayed at a rice shop in China

Fig.3. Another type of fermented soybean “tua-nao” left to dry in the sun in Thailand