Healthy and gluten-free bread from African climate smart crops

Wheat breads are rapidly replacing traditional meals in East and South Africa. Most of the wheat is imported, depriving local farmers from earning an income. In developed countries we see a growing demand for high-quality and nutritious gluten-free products. The NUTRIFOODS consortium aims develop commercially viable bread products for low-income groups based on local crops with high nutritional value, like modified cassava, sorghum and pulses).
Small farmers increase their market due to the new developed bread

The international partners of the NUTRIFOODS consortium work together on setting up viable businesses based on traditional African food processing technologies combined with European expertise in flavor sciences to improve consumer nutrition and health. The project focuses on developing two types of new bread: a flatbread (such as chapatti or wrap) and gluten-free bread. The former is mostly aimed at the African market whereas the latter might be more interesting for the western market. Both products open up new business opportunities for local entrepreneurs along the crop value chains. This will result in increased accessibility and affordability of nutritious bread for people with lowest incomes.

Replacement of imported wheat

NUTRIFOODS will develop strategies to substantially change bread-type consumption patterns, from one predominantly based on wheat to a future where climate-friendly crops are utilized optimally. Attention will be paid to use ingredient as modified cassava, sorghum and pulses.
The NUTRIFOODS consortium consists of a multitude of international knowledge and commercial partners. Partners such as Wageningen University, VTT technical research center (Finland) and local universities in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa focus mostly on the technical development of the new bread products. The international consortium contains also four commercial partners, including Bake5, one of the largest bakers and suppliers of gluten-free bread in the Netherlands, also active with bakeries in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. The other commercial partners are Nutreal in Uganda, Bakery and Food Technology Incubator of South Africa and Tymax Agribusiness Solutions in Kenya.

Role of TNO: market study

TNO’s contribution in this project is focused on the market and consumer demands for bread products. For the target markets in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, TNO will perform a market quick scan for baked goods which will guide the consortium in developing the new wheat reduced bread products.

Laura van den Aarssen from TNO “I will develop a rapid market appraisal (RMA) method that allows local entrepreneurs to carry out their own market research. This method will be transferred to the international partners such that they can instruct local SME’s to apply the RMA (“train-the-trainer” concept). As a business consultant I support innovations in their transition to the market. This project allows me to use my experience in a practical way to help create social impact as well as commercial success in developing countries”.

The resulting requirements will be taken into account in the product development phase such that the final product will be commercially viable. Consumer tests at a later stage will provide input on the acceptance of the newly developed bread products. It is important to carry out such tests before actually scaling up production, in order to make sure that the bread is still in line with consumer needs. This way TNO contributes in building viable startup enterprises and supports product diversification and business improvement in existing enterprises, locally in Africa as well as in the Netherlands.

This TNO project supports the following sustainable goals


Innovation for development

TNO's Innovation for Development (I4D) program innovates in low- and middle income countries with the aim to improve the lives of 2 billion people living below poverty level (World Bank, 2021). In close... Read more

Strategic Business Analysis

Dr. Laura van den Aarssen

  • Business Strategy
  • Business Models
  • Business modelling
  • Business consultancy
  • Orchestrating Innovation