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ILVO press release - Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New research project on bitter compounds in Belgian Endive roots and chicory

Searching for new applications in the food, medical, chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
Bitter compounds or “sesquiterpen lactones” are bio-active compounds that can be used in several sectors for many different applications, according to previous ILVO research. The next step is to identify the compounds and to find the best method to efficiently extract them from vegetable biomass (read: roots of Belgian Endive plants). ILVO is planning to work closely with the sector to realize these goals.

In the food industry, the processed roots may be a source of fiber, in combination with minerals and bitter compounds, as an ingredient in so-called “functional food”. In drinks, bitter is a useful taste. The pharmaceutical sector may use these compounds in medicines for diarrhea, burns, flu and even neurological conditions. In the medical world, these bitter compounds may have an effect on some cardiovascular diseases and cancer. In the plant protection sector, these bitter compounds may have some anti-fungal and antibacterial functions. They can also be used as insect repellents in crops.

Valorization of locally-produced biomass, such as Belgian Endive roots, are crucial for a circular and bio-based economy. Better valorization of these waste streams can represent better income for the farmer, brings useful compounds onto the market, benefits the environment and combats food waste. This new project is called “BioAccu”.


Bart Van Droogenbroeck, project BioAccu ILVO,,
M 32 492 154 442
Greet Riebbels, Communciation ILVO,, 32 486 260 014