Project

Call for partners: A safe and sustainable fresh food supply chain for the fruit and vegetable sector and technology stakeholders

For our public-private-partnership project research project, we are looking for partners – technology developers, processing equipment developers and users – to investigate and develop possibilities for reducing fresh water consumption during fresh produce processing to contribute to a more sustainable fresh food supply chain and ensure that safe products are brought to the market.

Project goal

Given an imminent need for sustainable fresh food production, possibilities are being sought for the reuse of raw materials and water. Within the fruit and vegetable sector, water is needed at several places, e.g. to wash fresh (cut) produce and to sort hard fruit. Treating the water makes it possible to reduce the refreshment rate of the water, to reuse water or to use alternative water sources such as rainwater, thereby contributing to water and energy reduction. However, these innovations cannot be at the expense of food safety. The presence of bacterial pathogens in the water can lead to high costs for the producer in connection with recalls and potential public health concerns for consumers.

The goal is to investigate and develop possibilities for reducing freshwater consumption during processing to contribute to a more sustainable fresh food supply chain and ensure that safe products are brought to the market.

Consortium

The consortium investigates the effectiveness of the technologies of the technology partners, such as ozone or UV, on the elimination of pathogenic bacteria (Listeria monocytogenes) in various water types, providing insight into their technology development and adaptation in terms of food safety applications in the fruit and vegetable sector. The processing equipment partners will investigate and evaluate the feasibility of their equipment in terms of water reduction and cost savings; they can use this insight for future construction of their equipment. For fruit and vegetable processors, they examine the feasibility of the technologies for disinfecting the water and gain insight into the water reduction and costs associated with scaling up the technologies while striving for food safety. The project increases knowledge development on microbiological and chemical food safety, water treatment, and quality in the fresh fruit and vegetable sector, considering the need to make the food chain circular and sustainable without compromising food safety.

Participation

Partners give in-kind (50%) and in-cash (50%) contributions (rules of the call). The length of the project is three years. The full consortium meets at least once a year and more often if required. Partners can contribute their knowledge and expertise in the project and help design the required lab and pilot experiments.