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Fruit and vegetable waste monitor launched

Fruit and vegetables fit into a sustainable diet and a healthy lifestyle. As such, fruit and vegetables are good for people and society. They deal with fresh products and therefore also with limited shelf life. This requires efficient logistics throughout the chain, from production to consumer, says GroentenFruit Huis.

Sometimes products 'fall by the wayside'. This can have various causes: supply exceeds demand, weather conditions affect quality or consumers buy more products than they consume. In general, companies in the sector have a destination for all products. However, it may be the case that residual flows arise for which a higher-quality destination can be found.

Industry organisation GroentenFruit Huis is committed to providing insight into the residual flows and waste in their chain, so that they can work in a targeted way to reduce and thus create a more sustainable future for the sector. Together with several players in the sector, they have collected data for the years 2020 to 2022, from which Wageningen University & Research has now compiled a monitor.

In this monitor, 11 entities, out of more than 280 members, participated. These can be divided into five 'exotics' (think pineapple and mango) and six 'greenhouse vegetables' (such as sweet pepper and tomato). The participants were compared at farm level and this showed that on average (for exotics and greenhouse vegetables combined) 2.1% is wasted and of this: 92% is fermented, 5% is composted and 3% is landfilled. For exotics, waste is highest at: 3.7%, whereas for greenhouse vegetables it is at 0.7%.

Wasted fruit and vegetables to fermentation
"Almost all waste fruit and vegetables from participating farms end up in fermentation. This is a method of making energy from natural materials. Fermentation falls under waste according to the European definition, so it is interesting to investigate whether these residual streams can also get a higher-value destination on Moerman's Ladder, such as processing into food for people, animal feed or biomaterials. This often results in a better price as well."

Why monitoring?
Monitoring gives the members of GroentenFruit Huis a picture of where residual flows and wastage occur, so they can work in a targeted way to reduce them. In addition, the sector measurement works as a benchmark; it also gives companies insight into how they perform compared to the sector average.

During meetings, questions are discussed and best practices shared. In this way, we can work together towards a sector with less food waste and thus a more sustainable future. Although this first step is a relatively small one, they hope it will motivate many other fruit and vegetable companies to also participate.

This is just a start
Combating food waste is an important issue for GroentenFruit Huis. "We are pleased with the increasing awareness of members on this topic, more and more members are actively working with the Foundation Together Against Food Wastage to map their food waste and achieve reductions. The new monitoring and benchmark can be an important tool to further support companies in this."

Rudy Toet of Combilo, participant in the monitor: "Thanks to the efforts of WUR and the Stichting Samen tegen Voedselverspilling (Foundation against Food Wastage), we can use our data even better and compare it with industry peers. It is important to keep talking to each other. This initiative would allow us to combat food waste in the produce sector in a more collective way. Hopefully more and more companies will join in the coming years, so we can increase the impact."

Source: GroentenFruit Huis

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