Millions of tons of vegetables and fruits are harvested and then distributed throughout Europe every year. However, fruits and vegetables can be regarded as highly perishable foods and are especially susceptible to changing climatic conditions (temperature, humidity) after harvest. The long distribution pathways in combination with insufficient technologies for appropriate transport and storage lead to a high amount of food wasted as well as to products with inferior quality arriving at the consumer.
FRESH-DEMO: waste reduction and quality improvement of fruits and vegetables
“It is conducting full-scale demonstration of the technology FRESH-DEMO along the entire chain of supply of fruits and vegetables.
Close to 50% of all fruits and vegetables get wasted in the EU, about a third of which can be attributed to the step between harvest and consumption. Food waste is currently a priority topic in the EU with a reduction target of 50% by 2020.
A novel, innovative humidification/disinfection technology which has been developed based on several successful European research activities can contribute substantially to this target while simultaneously enhancing the shelf life and the hygienic properties of fruit and vegetables.
By means of ultrasonic humidification as well as natural sanitizers for disinfection a cool, humid, and germ-free climate will be established preserving quality and freshness of fruits and vegetables (e.g. reduced weight/moisture loss, structural changes, decay, etc.) along the entire post-harvest supply chain. In five real-scale case studies (directly after harvesting – washing step, in transportation, storage, and retail facilities) the market potential of this technology will be demonstrated. Therefore, an unbroken cold as well as humidity chain will be achieved from farm to fork, substantially reducing waste along each step.
Thorough analysis of the achieved results in terms of ecologic, technological and economic benefits as well as in-depths market research will provide the basis for an extensive training, promotion, and dissemination program aimed at multipliers and potential clients, thus achieving a successful market introduction.
Real-scale demonstrations of the FRESH-DEMO technology along a continuous food supply chain will be executed in order to achieve the following specific objectives:
– To increase the freshness, shelf life, and the hygienic as well as sensorial properties of fruits and vegetables by providing a continuous cool, humid, and sanitary environment along the supply chain (no unbroken cold chain)
– To reduce avoidable bio-waste (damaged/decayed vegetable and fruits) generated due to insufficient storage and transport conditions
– To achieve highly anti-pathogenic effects by means of natural sanitizers
– To reduce necessary packaging material
– To reduce energy consumption compared to conventional used cooling systems
– Achieve a cost-saving potential (due to reduced waste and packaging materials, lower energy costs, higher sales, etc.) of ca. 20% in the fruit and vegetable distribution chain
– Introducing the FRESH-DEMO system as an eco-efficient product into the logistics of the European food sector
– Increased handling efficiency during the storage, transport and sales of fruit and vegetables
– Disseminate and promote knowledge on how the system affects the ecologic and economic sustainability of vegetable and fruit distribution in the food industry
– Market introduction of the system in the vegetable and fruit sector in Italy, Greece, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands and successively in the complete EU-28
– Use cost saving potentials and increase the competiveness of the European fruit and vegetable sector (mainly SMEs)