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Arla Foods Ingredients – a subsidiary of Danish conglomerate Arla Foods – is a global leader in value-added whey solutions. The company’s application team has already developed the first prototype recipes for a protein bar from milk and whey-based ingredients, along with dried papaya pulp sourced from Ethiopia.

The popularity of papaya

Globally, the market demand for tropical fruits has grown steadily over the past two decades. Gaining in popularity worldwide, papaya is ranked third in total global tropical fruit production, behind mango and pineapple.

Papaya has also become an important agricultural export for developing countries. In 2018, global production of papayas was 13.3 million tonnes, led by India with 45% of the world total.

It is also an important crop for Ethiopia. Papaya is the country’s fourth biggest fruit crop and provides a living income for almost 900,000 farmers.

Annually, though, around 30% of the harvest is lost due to spoilage. Solar drying the fruit has been recognised as a low-cost and sustainable opportunity to reduce post-harvest loss. It also makes more of the nutritious fruit available for processing.

Papaya is highly nutritious, being particularly rich in vitamins A, B and C. The pulp also contains protein, calcium, iron, sodium and potassium. Scientists from Addis Ababa University are currently investigating how to ensure the best nutrient retention during the drying process.

“One of our major tasks will be to adapt the recipe to local preferences based on consumer insights,” ​said Charlotte Sørensen, Arla Foods Ingredients business development manager.