Events Diary

Erica Liberto - Cocoa flavour quality and artificial intelligence in the industry 4.0
Friday 25 October 2024, 10:00 - 11:00
Hybrid - Zoom - Brussels
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The concept of food quality is intriguing, spanning various dimensions across the entire food production chain. The imperative to meet this expanded quality paradigm has forced a move away from conventional analytical methods towards more comprehensive strategies. The market dynamics for cocoa products are heavily influenced by their flavour quality, often driven by marketing and contingent upon the entire supply chain. However, the standardization of flavour quality over time proves to be challenging, given that this crop is primarily sourced from non-EU countries through numerous independent farmers, resulting in notable batch fragmentation and heterogeneity. Socio-political instability and the adverse impacts of climate change further exacerbate challenges to production and farm sustainability.
Moreover, financial incentives drive boarder-line practices, leading to detrimental consequences such as unfair competition, erosion of consumer confidence, and compromising food safety. As a future-looking strategy, Industry 4.0 uses information technology to promote industrial transformation through digitisation and computerisation of production, thus elevating the levels of process automation. In cocoa industry, Artificial Intelligence (AI) emerges as a pivotal player, notably enhancing cocoa quality and aiding decision-making processes. These AI-driven advancements contribute substantially to increase efficiency, sustainability, and competitiveness in the global cocoa market. This presentation will delve into the potential and constraints of artificial intelligence to address real industrial challenges.

Erica Liberto obtained her Master's degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology at the University of Turin in 2001. In November 2001, she received a scholarship for a two-year research internship from the University of Turin as part of the project "Characterisation and temporal evolution of the flavour profile of alcohol/cherries through chemical analysis combined with chemiometric analysis", funded by Soremartec (Ferrero Group). In 2003, she received a research grant from the University of Turin for a research project entitled "Characterisation of the chemical and organoleptic Robusta fresh harvest (Robusta project), green coffee and roasted coffee". In 2009, she obtained her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Turin with a thesis on "Approaches to accelerate the analysis of volatile fractions of plant matrices". In 2019, she became Associate Professor of Food Chemistry at the Dipartimento di Scienza e Tecnologia del Farmaco of the University of Turin.
Since 2006, Erica Liberto has coordinated and supervised several research projects funded by food companies, focusing in particular on integrated and advanced analytical approaches linked to chemometric tools for the analysis of foods and medicinal plants.
The research interests focus on: (a) the development of approaches to accelerate chromatographic separations and integrated solutions for sampling and detection in the qualitative and quantitative characterisation of food samples; (b) chemometric tools useful in profiling target and non-target metabolites and in fingerprinting associated with rapid analytical techniques with a view to on-line technological transfer; (c) applications of "omics" approaches in the discovery of markers related to nutrition or in the definition of the metabolic fineprint. Her research activities and international collaborations are described in 88 publications in international journals and 12 book chapters, oral communications and posters at national and international conferences.
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