Groundbreaking research centre celebrates 30th anniversary

One man’s vision and groundbreaking agenda in the food sector 30 years ago was decisive in establishing the first centre in Denmark working with the consumption of food. For 30 years, the centre has paved the way for an area in rapid development as well as interdisciplinary collaboration across borders.

Photo: Colourbox

MAPP was born in 1991.

Back then, it was just a network project financed by a programme within research and development in food technology (FØTEK) consisting of departments from seven Danish universities, including Aarhus School of Business. And even back then, the food sector already benefitted from the research in this area. But unlike before, the people behind the project thought it could be interesting to not only focus on production and technology, but to conduct research into sales and markets as well. At that time, no one else in Denmark was engaged in such studies.

This area was so new that few people were able to contribute to the research. But professor Klaus Grunert could, and as the initiator and coordinator of the project, he helped shape what later became MAPP (marketbased process and product innovation in the food sector) – an acronym which proved strong and lasting.

The original MAPP programme consisted of 15 research projects on topics spanning from innovation management to product management and marketing as well as theories on consumer culture. All projects were aimed at making the Danish food industry more market-oriented, using interdisciplinary project teams and benefitting from a high level of cooperation.


At the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the year 2000, there was a change in the way MAPP operated. Most collaboration agreements were now international, and the EU Framework Programme (FP) became the dominant source of research funding. Similarly, the research priorities shifted to reflect the priorities in the European area. This is most obvious when considering the research projects that MAPP was involved in before and after this period. Prior to 1996, MAPP had only been involved in two projects supported by the EU. After 1996, there was a series of major, international projects, and this type of collaboration is still being developed today.


Over the years, MAPP has been home to many projects. From projects on the labelling of food and packaging to projects on organic products and the Nordic keyhole label. The first real EU project was focused on consumer accept of genetic manipulation in food, and this caused quite a lot of debate in several places, seeing as people were sceptic of genetic manipulation.

"Today, people have become more used to it and are not as afraid to try something new. The fear of genetically modified salmon or chicken can still trigger debates, but the indignation among consumers is no longer as widespread. In this way, the line between the opposing sides is less solid, and the new generation is not as critical of technology as previous generations,” says Klaus Grunert.

Historical change also manifests itself in the fact that people have become more interested in healthy eating habits within the past 15-20 years. Initially, the target group of the research at MAPP was limited to the industry, but this is another thing that has changed over the past years. Since then, consumers have become the second pillar of the research conducted at MAPP.

The latest trend within food sector research is sustainability, which has affected the areas of research at MAPP as well. This can be seen in relation to meat consumption, alternatives to meat and similar topics. The way society develops plays a major part in what and how research is conducted.

The future

Today, professor Jessica Aschemann-Witzel is in charge of MAPP:

"Jessica is both very talented and very ambitious. Her focus is different from mine due to her genuine passion for sustainability, which is a good thing and very much in keeping with the times. And she is also skilled at setting a political agenda. I completely trust her to steer MAPP in the right direction,” says Klaus Grunert.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the celebration of the 30th anniversary had to be postponed. But now, it has been marked by an internal event at MAPP.


Further information on the MAPP centre