The collaboration between the AZTI, a BRTA member, and the Basque company Uriarte Iturrate, part of the Ecolumber Group, has been a milestone in the nut sector. This alliance has not only revolutionised the business sector, but has also stimulated innovation in the food industry. The result of this synergy is the launch of ‘Air Nuts’, a snack that stands out for its originality and commitment to health and sustainability.

After four years of research, Air Nuts is a snack that integrates up to 86% of nuts in an expanded and porous form, a feature that significantly reduces their caloric density. This achievement was made possible by a patented technology developed specifically for this product, demonstrating a serious commitment to innovation.

The collaboration between AZTI and Ecolumber has brought a revolutionary product to market, stimulating economic growth and the creation of skilled jobs. This innovative approach has proven to be a driver of economic and social change. Today, the company has a turnover of 22 million euros, employs 12 people (50% of whom are women) and is continuing its international expansion with a catalogue of nine innovative products, present in prestigious chains in the UK such as Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer.

The impact of Air Nuts has been particularly remarkable with the Hot Chilli flavour, which was recognised as the UK Flavour of the Year in 2022 and also won Carrefour’s Best SME award for its innovative approach. In 2024, the product won the BTEM award for process innovation, confirming the quality and acceptance of the product and the success of Ecolumber’s strategy.

This case highlights the importance of collaboration between technology centres and private companies to achieve exceptional results, respond to market demands and move towards sustainable development and effective corporate social responsibility.


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