Plant research and Brewery research at UCPH FOOD

The world’s population is increasing rapidly and this places enormous demands on securing healthy and sustainable food in the future. The Department of Food Science’s (UCPH FOOD’s) research in plants contributes solving global food challenges and ensures the better utilisation of plant-based raw materials and side streams.

UCPH FOOD carries out basic and applied research with a focus on food plants – often in close collaboration with the food and ingredients industries. The research field has a holistic and interdisciplinary approach that provides a molecular understanding of how the raw materials and processing affect the quality of the finished product. The research includes in-depth characterisation of known and new raw materials, optimisation of existing and new process technology in relation to more sustainable processes, including the utilisation of side streams as well as improving the finished product in terms of durability and the functional, nutritional and sensory quality.

The scientific competencies include food plant technology and processing, bioextraction of raw materials and side streams, physicochemical characterisation of raw materials and products, aroma development and flavour release; bioactive food components and protein, lipid and carbohydrate chemistry.

Research in durability, the technological, sensory and/or nutritional quality can generally be categorised as follows:

  • Utilisation of raw materials and side streams (technology)
  • Product development targeted for specific consumer groups (health)
  • Improvement of durability and packaging (reducing waste)
  • Reduction of environmental impact (sustainability)
  • Biodiversity – improved utilisation or new plant resources – (climate change)

Strategical research fields




Plant metabolomics focuses on quantitative and qualitative analysis of metabolites in plant cells. The research makes it possible to understand how the plant genes will influence the phenotype characteristics. For example, you can develop grain varieties with improved quality characteristics that will be disease resistant or can better adapt to environmental changes, while providing a high yield and nutritional value.
We use metabolomics to understand the plant’s natural defence mechanisms against external stresses, to identify the key bioactive compounds that improve the health value of the plants, as well as to evaluate the impact of environmental and genetic influences.
In combination with proteomics and transcriptomics, metabolomics analysis of plants has become a powerful tool for identifying gene functions, detecting biomarkers and clarifying biosynthetic pathways.
In order to interpret metabolic data from, for example, GC-MS, NMR and LC-MS, extensive computing is required and multivariate data analysis is a good tool.

The research is performed by the UCPH FOOD-section Food Analytics and Biotechnology
For more information about this field, contact Søren Balling Engelsen / Bekzod Khakimov
Or read more about the research field Foodomics








We work with everything from fruit, berries and vegetables to grains and legumes. The research focuses on all or part of the chain from earth to table. For example, this could be characterising aroma in new varieties of strawberries, optimising a process in relation to a healthier product, utilising side streams to create a more sustainable production or the influence of new ingredients on the durability of the finished product.
In addition, we work with food compounds where, for example, the functional properties are evaluated for dairy products with milk-plant protein mixtures and salami with plant fibres.

The research is performed by the UCPH FOOD-section Food Analytics and Biotechnology, Design and Consumer Behavior and Ingredient and Dairy Technology
For more information about this field, contact Birthe Møller Jespersen / Mikael Agerlin Petersen















Bioextraction and bioprocessing equipment is used for the development of plant-based food ingredients in an environmentally responsible manner using separation techniques such as decanter, filtration and supercritical fluid extraction. For example, the press cake that is a by-product of rapeseed oil is used to extract functional plant proteins and fibres that can be used as ingredients.

The research is performed by the UCPH FOOD-section Ingredient and Dairy Technology
For more information about this field, contact Birthe Møller Jespersen.









Quantitative metabolomics/foodomics from GC-MS and/or NMR combined with multivariate data analysis provide valuable information about biological systems that are affected by external factors and may help us to understand how genetics and the environment influence the plants, and subsequently improve the nutritional quality of the crop. Metabolomics is also used to understand the resistance mechanisms that plants have against biotic and abiotic factors.

The research is performed by the UCPH FOOD-section Food Analytics and Biotechnology
For more information about this field, contact Søren Balling Engelsen / Bekzod Khakimov
Or read more about the research field Foodomics



Diversity is the foundation for developing food plants. Near infrared spectroscopy has been implemented for rapid analysis of millions of samples of grains from around the world. By evaluating the entire spectrum of multivariate data analysis, a physical-chemical “fingerprint” is obtained for the sample. This can be used to screen new mutants, hybrids and varieties and gain an understanding of the influence of genetics and the environment.

The research is performed by the UCPH FOOD-section Food Analytics and Biotechnology
For more information about this field, contact Birthe Møller Jespersen / Åsmund Rinnan



What makes a biscuit crisp and how does the mixing time of a dough affect the finished product? A dough is structurally altered by mechanical and thermal stresses while the structure of the finished product changes when stored. In order to understand the influence of the ingredients and the method of production on the finished product, dough systems, for example, are examined using rheological and spectroscopic methods. In this way we obtain information about intermolecular interactions and molecular mobility that can be correlated to the functionality, after which recommendations can be given as to which ingredients and processes should be used for a given product.

The research is performed by the UCPH FOOD-section Food Analytics and Biotechnology and Ingredient and Dairy Technology
For more information about this field, contact Søren Balling Engelsen / Birthe Møller Jespersen



Raw materials and products should taste and smell good and to ensure this, aroma analysis of volatile substances is used in raw materials before, during and after processing as well as in the finished product. Work is done with the characterisation of raw materials where the aroma profiles from, for example, apple varieties are particularly well suited for cider and wine. In addition, the importance of the manufacturing process for the flavour of the finished product is compared, for example, the fermentation conditions for cocoa beans or bread, or the influence of the toasting level of the malt on the finished beer’s aroma and flavour stability. 

The research is performed by the UCPH FOOD-section Design and Consumer Behavior
For more information about this field, contact Mikael Agerlin Petersen




In order to increase the shelf life of beer and ensure good taste, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of the raw material and the chemical and physical transformations (e.g. oxidation) that occur during the individual process steps during brewing. We are working to highlight the role of protein-derived thiols as antioxidants in beer, including uncovering the reaction mechanism in beer and the importance of metal ions. This knowledge is used to develop new resource-efficient brewing methods and in the application of new ingredients, which is necessary to make new types of high quality beer.

The research is performed by the UCPH FOOD-section Ingredient and Dairy Technology
For more information about this field, contact Mogens Andersen / Marianne Lund







Plant research is part of many courses at UCPH FOOD. The primary plant focus is in the bachelor course Raw Material Quality, where the importance of raw material quality for process and final product quality is taught – mainly focusing on fruits, vegetables and grains. In the brewing courses at the graduate level, the entire chain from earth to table, focusing on the raw material quality of barley, malt, hops, the manufacturing process from malt house to brewery as well as the technological and sensory quality of the finished product. The courses are offered in close collaboration with the Scandinavian School of Brewing. In addition, plant research is the starting point when teaching in certain areas, such as hydrocolloids, lipid oxidation and aroma. This takes place at both the bachelor level (e.g. Biochemistry and Food Chemistry) and graduate level (e.g. Food ingredients and structure design and Aroma – the chemistry behind odour). In addition, BSc and MSc projects are offered on a regular basis – often in collaboration with industry partners.



The research field has baker and brewery pilot plant facilities, which are currently being expanded. In addition, extrusion and high pressure technology is used to improve nutritional and/or functional quality.

UCPH FOOD has a strong analytical platform with spectroscopy (NIR, IR and LF-NMR), GC-MS (metabolomics and aroma), protein characterisation (CHNS, CE, HPLC, LCMS, SDS) and texture. In addition, reference analyses for raw material analyses (e.g. fat, fibre, protein, kernel and particle size, decay, gluten, germination, friability and Congress mashing) primarily in relation to bread and beer production. Read more about this in the description of the research field Foodomics




Plant research is rooted in strong collaboration with industry – from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to global industries at home and abroad. We collaborate with GTS institutes and other institutes and universities. Internally at the University of Copenhagen we work closely with the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (PLEN) (e.g. metabolomics, bioactive components, carbohydrate characterisation and microscopy) and the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports (NEXS) (e.g. metabolomics and intervention studies). 

We have built and continually expand a network of good collaboration partners in the Nordic region and Europe through networks and research projects. Examples of this are FUNPRO funded by the Nordic Industrial Fund and the European EJD-PhD network with a focus on improving the flavour quality and stability of beer.  

The vast majority of our research projects are done in collaboration with large and small industry partners from home and abroad. Collaboration with SMEs is typically done through regional funds or GUDP – Green Development and Demonstration Programme. For larger companies, there are collaborations over industrial PhDs and postdocs as well as large research projects supported by, for example, Innovation Fund Denmark, Independent Research Fund Denmark and the EU. New collaborations often start with an MSc project where an idea is tested to identify the relevance of potential research collaboration




Birthe Møller JespersenBirthe Møller Jespersen
Associate Professor