26 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM T he CHIC project aims to develop chicory varieties that can be used to produce die- tary fibre with enhanced prebiotic effects to promote gut health and terpenes with promising health effects. The €7.3 million project supports the establishment of a responsible innovation path- way for the development and application of new plant breeding techniques (NPBTs) for chicory as a multipurpose crop for the production of high- value consumer products, in line with societal needs and concerns. The consortium leading the project brings together a carefully selected team of 17 internationally leading industrial, academic and public participants from 11 European countries and one from New Zealand. Among the industry partners is Sensus. European Seed reached out to Matthew de Roode, Innovation Manager at Sensus for his views on CHIC. EUROPEAN SEED (ES): MATTHEW, CAN YOU TELL ME A BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR COMPANY’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE CHIC PROJECT? MATTHEW DE ROODE (MdR): Sensus is a manu- facturer of inulin and oligofructose from chicory. As part of the Cosun Cooperative, adding value for our farmers is always an important part in our strategy. Therefore, the focus of our innovation program is on increasing chicory value by looking at the production process, looking at the (higher) valorisation of current side streams and finding new applications for our products. We actively collaborate with our Cosun Innovation Center and scientific partners, like Wageningen University. In an early stage of the project we were asked by Wageningen University if we would be interested to participate in the CHIC project. The CHIC pro- ject focusses on adding value to the chicory root by optimising the production of the already commer- cialised health ingredients (inulin) and exploring the health potential of currently non-commercial ingredients (the terpenes). Evidently, the project enables a strong positioning for chicory as a mul- tipurpose crop enabling Sensus to add value for its shareholders. ES: WHY IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE EU SPENDS MONEY ON BOOSTING CHICORY? MdR: Chicory is a healthy, robust crop that doesn’t have high needs like nutrients. Unfortunately, it is currently a very marginal crop with a relatively low interest from commercial parties for large improvement investments. The positioning in CHIC as a multipurpose crop that can produce different health related ingredients can give chicory the boost that it deserves. ES: INULIN IS MORE AND MORE USED TO REPLACE SUGAR AND FAT. WILL INULIN BE ABLE TO STOP THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC? MdR: It is a fact that inulin and oligofructose play an important role in fat and sugar reduction, due WHY IT MATTERS One of the recent projects financed by the EU Horizon 2020 funding programme is the CHIC project, which plans to develop chicory varieties that can be used to produce both healthy dietary fibres and healthy terpenes. The project will be using New Plant Breeding Techniques and evaluate the technological performance of these technologies, as well as the safety, environmental, regulatory, socio- economic and broader societal issues associated with them. Adding value to the chicory root THE INDUSTRY VIEW ON THE CHIC PROJECT. BY: MARCEL BRUINS