A consortium of organisations in Wales have secured £350,000 of research and development funding to help tackle childhood obesity by using apples in an innovative way.

Sustainable food technology specialist Pennotec, based in Pwllheli, has collaborated with Bangor University’s BioComposites Centre, Coleg Menai’s Food Technology Centre and Cork Company CyberColloids on the project.

The funding from Welsh Government’s Food and Drink Division and Innovate UK’s Small Business Research Initiative will be used to develop a method of utilising apple pomace.

Apple pomace is the solid residue that remains after milling and pressing of apples for cider, apple juice or puree production.

This will be used to develop a food ingredient that could reduce levels of sugar and saturated fat in range of popular food items.

The food ingredient is being developed to be utilized by food manufacturers, school caterers and people in their own kitchens.

Dr Jonathan Hughes, managing director of Pennotec, said: “We are using Welsh apple pomace as a food ingredient with functional fibres which can improve the nutritional composition of foods that are particularly enjoyed by children whilst reducing cost.

“A key aim of the project is to make food and drink healthier and cheaper without sacrificing the flavour.”

Research shows that by the age of 11, more than 40% of children in Wales are either overweight or obese which is putting them at an increased risk of developing heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes when they are adults.

Dr Adam Charlton of Bangor University’s BioComposites Centre has commented: “Like the rest of the UK and Europe, Wales generates thousands of surplus fresh food resources like apples, a rich source of natural fibres that never make it to the supermarket shelves because they are out-graded, surplus to requirements or are processed and only partly utilised.

“In this project we are targeting the potential to use apple pomace to provide the texture for food instead of high calorie ingredients such as fat.”