Food Pilot


The Food Pilot offers the possibility to test new concepts or new products in practice to prepare them before taking them to industrial scale production. This pilot plant focuses primarily on companies in the agro-food industry, but also stakeholders (such as suppliers, wholesalers, distributors, consumer organisations and educational institutions). The contacts with the companies are mainly bilateral and are also financed via Flanders “KMO-portefeuille” which may be of interest for some companies. Various educational institutions are involved in the research executed in the Food Pilot via various research projects through Flanders'Food and IWT.


From raw material to finished product

  • Reception and preparation of agro-food products
  • Preprocessing of raw materials
  • Processing of the raw materials
  • Post processing to finished products
  • Access to peripheral equipment such as all kinds of pumps, storage tanks, agitators and measuring equipment

One advantage is that the various devices for the above processes are often portable. They can be drafted in flexible lines so customers can fully mimic their own specific production processes.
For each new investment in the Food Pilot, we always focus on the multifunctionality of the devices, so they can be applied for different food sectors, including dairy and dairy analogs, fruit juices, soups, sauces, snack food industry, fruit and vegetables, prepared meals, fish and meat.

Quality and process analysis

In the quality control lab, parameters such as acidity, composition (fat, protein, carbohydrate, moisture, etc.), brix values, and others can be quickly and accurately determined. For more applied physical and chemical analysis, the product quality laboratory has the equipment and expertise to determine texture analysis, particle size, and stability (Zeta Potential and turbiscan).
ILVO has other multi-disciplinary laboratories where in-depth analyses are performed under accredited conditions.

Scientific support

The Food Pilot has access to the scientists, process engineers and laboratory technicians employed at ILVO’s Technology and Food Science Unit. The Food Pilot’s scientific staff and the scientists from ILVO are high-level researchers. Most of the analyses performed at the Technology and Food Science labs adhere to stringent accreditation requirements.
This scientific support provides any needed scientific validation of experiments, pilot tests or analysis of products produced in the pilot plant. ILVO has broad expertise in conducting basic and applied research relevant to the food industry. The Food Pilot has also a long history of using installations for the dairy and food industries.


The Food Pilot is open to any company or academic institution. It can be used to promote innovation and increase knowledge about food processing, test new and/or enhanced products and/or processes, or produce pilot products for market research. Experienced technicians are available for consultation throughout the production process. Test productions can also be kept confidential.


The Food Pilot equipment can also be used for training employees of the agro-food sector (organised privately or through training centers such as IPV or VDAB). Students can also learn while accompanied by teachers in collaboration with colleges and university colleges or universities. The equipment has recording software to record parameters that determine the quality of a product in a production process. Given that product knowledge is central to a successful training, ILVO provides expert assistance during the training process.


Katleen Coudijzer, Geert Van Royen, Karen Verstraete, Nathalie Bernaert

Food Pilot website

Video 'The Food Pilot at a glance'


  • Functionality of inulin in various dairy products
  • Testing of several ice cream recipes, including ice cream with reduced calorie content
  • Replacing sugar with Stevia in all kinds of dairy products and chocolate