Preprint / Version 1

Solution roadmap to reduce food loss along your postharvest supply chain from farm to retail




Fresh fruits and vegetables typically have a limited shelf life due to their high moisture content and perishable nature. Notably, long global import and export supply chains can lead to an increased risk of food loss. The main underlying drivers for such food loss are air temperature, relative humidity, but also the ripening gases influenced by the product's postharvest physiology. These factors can lead to quality variation, over-ripening, or microbial decay. Other factors that can cause food loss include supply chain procedures, such as the lack of transparency (i.e., no cold chain or quality monitoring) or unfavorable product inventory management. Optimizing supply chains to minimize postharvest food loss is challenging, as a multitude of individual measures can be taken. A reason is that available strategies work on different food loss drivers, which vary between products and supply chains. Stakeholders, therefore, often do not know where to start. Here we propose a comprehensive collection of 30+ measures for shelf-life prolongation of fresh fruit and vegetables across the food supply chain. This experience-based roadmap was constructed based on our close collaboration with different cold chain stakeholders. The presented 30+ solutions address inefficiencies during storage, packaging, or transport processes by distinguishing hygrothermal food loss drivers. Examples are (1) the adaption of an optimal storage temperature to prevent over-ripening but also chilling injuries; (2) improved packaging ventilation to ensure cooling efficiency and appropriate humidity conditions around the products; or (3) product-related solutions, for instance, by maintaining specific storage or packaging gas composition, acting on the commodities' unique physiology to prolong its shelf life. Furthermore, we included measures for supply chain monitoring or specifically at the retail stage. The easy-to-use solution roadmap is outlined for fresh produce suppliers, distributors, and retailers to accelerate these stakeholders' decision-making and actions and eventually combat postharvest losses.


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