About us

Our mission

The Food Pilot offers an integrated package of services ranging from the first innovative idea to a successful end-product. The client can choose support for one, several or all of the steps in an innovation process, accompanied as desired by a project-specific package of testing, analysis and advice. Make contact for an appointment and visit our facilities. We wish you a warm welcome.

Anniversary of Food Pilot

In 2021 Food Pilot celebrated it's 10 years anniversary! Now 12 years ago, the Flemish Minister of Economy decided that the pilot infrastructure and technical advice for the food sector could be expanded considerably. The existing "national dairy station" in Melle which is part of ILVO and Flanders' FOOD invested in multifunctional, semi-industrial machinery and, above all, in knowledge and well-oiled support for innovative and solution-seeking companies.

Food Pilot

Some numbers

In 2023 260 technological advices were given. These are intake meetings in which the question is analysed, advice is given and the tests that are opportune are considered.

In addition, 707 pilot tests were conducted for 98 clients. The number of pilot tests per year quadrupled since the start of the Food Pilot 12 years ago.

Food Pilot

Of the 98 clients of pilot tests in 2023, 35 were new contacts. 66 clients were industrial companies, of which 43 were Belgian and 23 foreign, with 50% being SMEs. There were also pilot tests for 7 agricultural companies, of which 2 were Belgian and 5 Dutch. 9 entities were knowledge institutions or knowledge companies. Finally, 19 assignments were in the context of (international) projects.

The largest proportion of clients of pilot tests were producers of alternative protein sources (26%), valorisation of side streams (11%), processing of vegetables (10%), development and applications of ingredients (10%), dairy analogues (9%) and meat analogues (4%).

Food Pilot

In 2023, about 20,000 nutritional analyses were performed for 190 private companies (food companies, farmers, other labs, certification & inspection bodies, consumer organisations, kit manufacturers, pharmaceutical industry, and so on) in the context of product improvement or problem solving.

In addition, about 100 activities for supporting en ensuring the quality of the food chain were performed by ILVO, including ring trials, preparing standards, reference series, and control samples. This was for 65 clients, including milk control labs, companies, kit producers, and knowledge institutes.

In total, more than 300 companies are thus reached every year.

Food Pilot

Welcome to the future

To conclude the anniversary, Joris Relaes, administrator general of ILVO, points to the societal value of a full-on, lifelong commitment to a sustainable agri-food chain. He remarks that this meets the European Commission’s Green Deal goals. ILVO strives to attain these European goals, and to meet the demands of the Flemish minister Hilde Crevits’ call for action against food losses and in favor of the proteins shift through the ‘Food Changers’ campaign.

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