A research project looking at ways of improving the nutritional value and shelf life of baked goods has been launched.

Researchers have secured a £650k grant from Innovate UK for the scheme, which will be run in a collaboration between bread supplier Everfresh Natural Foods, Campden BRI and pasteurisation expert Holmach.

They hope to identify new ways of improving the nutritional qualities and shelf life of baked products by using sprouted grains and pasteurisation without harming taste and texture.

“Research into the benefits of sprouted grains has been promising, but we hope this grant will enable us to expand on early findings and discover just how beneficial the process is to the nutritional qualities of the end baked products,” said Everfresh managing director Tom Russell.

Campden and Everfresh will initially work together to identify the sprouted grains that produce the best product in terms of taste, texture and nutritional properties. Researchers will look at grains including oats, wheat, rye, spelt and barley, along with the use of pulses as an option for increasing protein levels in products.

Holmach will explore how pasteurisation, involving steaming products once packed, could extend their shelf life and enable the removal of additives.

“We’re excited to be working on such a cutting-edge project, which could have huge impacts on the food industry,” said Russell.

“There’s an obvious commercial attraction at a consumer level, where nutritional products appeal to today’s health-conscious consumers who are looking for ever less processed foods, and at a retail level, with extended shelf lives and reduced waste having positive financial impacts.

“Perhaps more exciting is the impact this could have in regions of the world where increased nutritional content and an increase in food hygiene could have life-saving consequences.”

Innovate UK is a non-departmental public body that aims to “drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base”.