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Scoping study on Maintaining the quality of fruit and vegetables in the supply chain. - FO0304

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have the potential to play a vital role in elevating the general health status of society in particular by reducing the likelihood of lifestyle diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. The precise means by which they achieve their effect are not clear. Attempts to mimic the health effects of fruits and vegetables by supplying the phytochemicals thought to be responsible for their efficacy are frequently unsuccessful. This indicates that their effects are the result of complex interactions between the combinations of constituent phytochemicals in relation to bioavailability and biological action.

Patterns of food production and consumption are changing. Consumption of fresh produce is declining and there is a move to processed or partially processed products. These have particular quality requirements for the market such as visual appearance and keeping properties. New varieties are developed and introduced and there is a steady increase in organic production and the development of local production and supply chain schemes. However, relatively little is known about the impact of particular production and supply systems on the quality of fruits and vegetables as defined by total compositional (phytochemical and micronutrient) and organoleptic measures.

An approach to this question is to develop a series of key quality indicators for targeted fruits and vegetables. These would include profiles of key metabolite and phytochemical classes (including naturally occurring toxins and antimetabolites), micronutrients, and volatiles plus physical measures such as colour and textural components. These would form a baseline for establishing the impact of specific factors on end-use quality. Such factors could include. Genetics (i.e. varietal differences), Effects of pre-harvest factors (e.g. extreme weather episodes) on post harvest quality, Effects of different production systems and disease pressures (e.g. ICM vs zero pesticides), Effects of processing steps (e.g. bagged partially prepared produce), Comparison of locally produced and remotely sourced material and optimisation of local production chains.

This initial project proposes to carry out an initial scoping study to review the existing information on the effects of production and supply chain factors on composition and define to the targets and methodologies for a full follow-up analytical project. The study will cover a group of key fruits and vegetables that are consumed as fresh and processed products. These could include brassicas (broccoli, cabbage), salad leaves, onions, tomatoes and strawberries.

The information produced in the intital and follow-up project would allow policy makers to understand the effect of changing production consumption trends on the compositional (and thus nutritional) quality of fruits and vegetables. It would also produce information to support the promotion of diverse sources of fruits and vegetables including through local productions schemes.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Scoping study on Maintaining the quality of fruit and vegetables in the supply chain.   (1134k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2007

Cost: £31,503
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Warwick - HRI
Allocated - WHRI              
Food and Drink              
Food manufacturing industry              
Food Quality              
Sustainable Consumption and Production              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Fields of Study
Resource Efficient and Resilient Food Chain