Food wastage in the fruit and veg sector

24-04-2019    02:15   |    Eurofresh Distribution/Groenten Fruit Huis

As fresh fruits and vegetables have a limited shelf life, this requires efficient logistics throughout the entire chain to prevent waste. The environmental impact of fruit and vegetable consumption is relatively low and the nutritional value high. The RIVM1 calculated that the contribution of fruit and vegetables to climate change is low. The sector is doing everything it can to keep this contribution as low as possible. This involves preventing waste and making supply chains more sustainable.

According to the European Court of Auditors, one third of the food supply is wasted worldwide. There are no specific figures for the share of fruit and vegetables. The FUSIONS3 study found that in the EU, most food is wasted by consumers - around 53%. The rest takes place across the supply chain between production and retail.

The vast majority of fruit sold in the Netherlands is labelled Class I. However, Dutch retail chains also sell Class II. Class II products may have cosmetic defects, such as double tomatoes, bell peppers with a nose, color deviations or minor damage. Class II is also regularly sold to wholesalers and the market.

Data analysis and digitization help to optimize chains. Innovations such as packaging the stems of tomato plants can also help eliminate waste. Moreover, there is a constant search for ways to reduce packaging materials with a joint industry effort in the Packaging Sustainability Plan for the Industry.

To avoid food wastage due to market disequilibrium, it is essential to recognize the position of the grower and guarantee a fair price. Class classification provides clarity in the chain, fair trade and high-quality products so that food waste is prevented. There should also be chain cooperation between producer, trade and retail, as well as an appropriate purchasing policy from retail that matches the needs of the consumer as closely as possible. Food should be offered to food banks. An initiative has recently been launched in Westland, called de Groente & Fruitbrigade, where products are sorted and prepared for food banks at a central point.

Photo credit: Foerster via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

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