Postharvest physiology

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research investigates the biological processes involved in the ripening and senescence of agricultural and horticultural products after harvest. Knowledge of these processes is translated into new treatments and storage and transport methods to prevent loss of quality and profit in the distribution chain.

Knowledge of physiology

Wageningen researchers study:

  • the background of wilting and senescence of fruits, vegetables and flowers at the product, tissue and cellular levels;
  • the processes involved in fruit softening and the decomposition of the cell wall during the ripening of fruit;
  • the production of taste and aroma compounds during the ripening of fruit and fruiting vegetables;
  • the preservation of the sensory quality and nutritional value during storage.

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research develops knowledge on the ripening and senescence of harvested agricultural and horticultural products and studies the effects of genetics and pre-harvest conditions. These insights are used in the development of new work methods and technologies to preserve the quality of products, and to make quality measurable and predictable.

Our knowledge of postharvest physiology is used in:

  • the development of methods and protocols for the packaging, storage and transport of fruits, vegetables and flowers, and the optimisation of current storage and ripening protocols;
  • the development of chemical and/or physical post-harvest treatments and specific, possibly dynamic storage conditions to prolong life and improve quality;
  • identification of biomarkers and development of non-destructive methods to measure and monitor various aspects of ripening and senescence;
  • identification of pre-harvest (cultivation) and genetic factors that determine the behaviour of products in the distribution chain to support cultivation and breeding research;
  • the development of new intelligent packaging materials and active coatings for fruits, vegetables and flowers as well as fresh-cut products.

Most versatile research facilities

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has one of the most versatile research facilities at its disposal for:

  • determining respiration activity and ethylene production;
  • determining colour, texture and flavour properties;
  • determining volatile components and aroma profiles;
  • heat, light, and UV light treatments to prolong storage life and supress decay organisms;
  • research into optimal temperature, humidity and controlled atmosphere conditions;
  • development and testing of packaging materials, chemicals, and green alternatives;
  • non-destructive determination of external and internal quality characteristics using visible light, NIR and hyperspectral imaging;
  • performing distribution simulations, assessing shelf life and sensory aspects.