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Food Waste’ Successfully Incorporated into Tortillas to Increase Fibre


With the ever-growing health issues of obesity, diabetes and cancer, and concern over food waste, as part of its research into calorie reduction and fibre enhancement, Campden BRI has successfully used food waste to double the fibre content of a tortilla, helping it achieve a ‘high fibre’ claim.

Bakery scientist Lucas Westphal, who is leading the project, said:

“We chose the tortilla for this project as its sales are continuing to rise significantly and therefore likely to have a real impact on people’s diets. The recipe we developed incorporated the butternut squash peel to boost its fibre content.  On average, people in the UK do not consume enough fibre, and food waste is also a major concern for both consumers and the food industry. Consumers like familiarity, so producing a high fibre product that is similar to a well-known one holds potential as an effective route to increasing the public’s fibre intake.”

The team working on the project replaced 20% of the tortilla’s wheat flour with the butternut squash peel powder. This increased the fibre content by 97%, up from 3.3g to 6.5g per 100g, but only reduced calories by 3.5%. If marketed, the tortilla would now be eligible for a ‘high fibre’ claim making it more appealing to consumers interested in healthy eating.

Adding this food waste ingredient also delivered another benefit.

Bakery technologist Leandra Molina Beato, who helped reformulate the tortilla, explained:

“Incorporating our butternut powder changed the colour of the tortilla.  Colour plays a critical role in determining the consumer’s acceptance of a product, and our reformulation created a golden yellow tortilla, a food colour that’s generally accepted as appealing. There are many factors to consider when incorporating dietary fibre into a product. An ingredient’s functionality can modify both the finished product in appearance, texture and taste, and the behaviour of the product during manufacture. Trialling different fibres in different products is the only way to determine the impact on functionality and consumer appeal.”

Barfoots of Botley which specialises in semi-exotic produce, provided the butternut squash peels as part of their sustainability work. Keston Williams, technical director, added:

“The peel is currently used in our anaerobic digester, which produces electricity to run our factory and provides fertiliser for our crops.  However, if the peel can be used for innovative healthy products like this, then this is the best place for it.”

The research is part of a three-year project which aims to provide the food industry with an understanding of the functionality of dietary fibres, their performance and potential new sources.  

Westphal added:

“So far we’ve managed to successfully increase the fibre, but in this case calorie reduction has been minimal. We’ll continue to look at ways of achieving both goals over the next two years.”

The next phase of the research will begin trialling varying concentrations of commercial fibres in pizza bases, tomato sauces and in meatballs while assessing characteristics that may affect product quality and consumer acceptability. Consumer and sensory trials will determine consumer acceptance of the reformulated products. The ‘Calorie Reduction and Fibre Enhancement’ project will continue until December 2021.

Picture of Nikita BFBi

Nikita BFBi

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