Stop Food loss and waste – Dutch innovations for efficient food chains in emerging markets

Postharvest Network workshop December 13, 2017 – On December 13, 2017, the Postharvest Network organized a break-out session during the AgriFoodTech Platform conference, exploring opportunities for the Dutch agrofood sector in the reduction of food loss and waste in emerging markets.

The session started with a presentation by Michiel van Erkel from the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, with an outline of the Dutch policy context and facilitation. Second, Bhairavi Jani, CEO of the Indian logistics service provider SCA, demonstrated the economic growth potential of India and encouraged Dutch entrepreneurs to take part in that growth. Natalia Basso from the Argentinian Ministry of Agriculture inspired with the example of the Argentinian programme on food loss and waste reduction. The session finalized with a view on the new structure of the Postharvest Network 2.0 starting in January 2018 including the close cooperation of the core partners AgriProFocus, FME and Wageningen Food & Biobased Research.

According to Michiel van Erkel of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, reducing food loss and waste is a “triple win”: it leads to economic gains and reduces economic losses; it allows feeding more people; and it reduces the pressure on climate, water and land resources. The Netherlands has the knowledge and experience to play an active role in reducing food losses in the food supply chain. Working on food supply chains requires operating on the cutting edge of agriculture, trade and logistics. Action is needed in separate chains, but also integrally throughout the whole value chain. It requires partnerships between the private sector, knowledge institutes, civil society and governments. For these reasons the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Agriculture initiated the Postharvest Network in 2014. Michiel van Erkel highlighted some examples of lessons learned about doing business in developing countries. One of the lessons is to not introduce products that have not been proven to work: a new innovation in a completely new context and culture includes too many variables. A second lesson is that the training of local people is crucial. To use the innovation and to maintain it well, aftersales and mentorship for entrepreneurs is necessary and needs qualified staff. One of the instruments the Ministry of Agriculture developed and introduced in cooperation with the Postharvest Network was the “voucher system” for easing up the start of new interventions to reduce food losses in emerging markets. As the first year proved successful with a number of interesting initiatives, the Ministry of Agriculture will continue this instrument in 2018 and offer EUR 100,000 for a second round of vouchers.

Bhairavi Jani showed the enormous potential India offers. India has a huge agricultural sector and ranks in the world’s five largest producers of over 80% of agricultural produce items. It is the world’s second largest producer of wheat and rice. However, 40% of all produce is lost after harvest, and 7,000 people die every day due to malnourishment and hunger. Bhairavi Jani stated that India is at the beginning of an exponential growth phase. The Indian government has launched a programme to double the income of farmers by 2022 and to reduce postharvest losses to below 10%. To make this happen, the agrofood supply chain in India (and more specifically the cold chain) has to be reengineered. The challenge is to close the gap between feeding more people while using less water and less land resources. She urged Dutch entrepreneurs to take part in this growth. She advised to start small, but think large, i.e. starting a project at small scale but keeping upscaling in mind from the very beginning. The common project of SCA and WFBR on tomatoes and bananas is a successful example and resulted in two supply chain enhancement projects that are currently implemented.
The presentation of Bhairavi Jani can be found here.

Natalia Basso of the Ministry of Agriculture of Argentina, gave an overview of the Food Loss and Waste programme in her country. A recent survey showed that up to 45% of fruit and vegetables are lost after harvesting. The government has set up a national platform to reduce food loss and waste with 70 members representing all parties involved in the food chain (restaurants, producers, NGOs, universities, logistics service providers and others). This platform developed a national action plan for reaching the Sustainable Development Goal 12, target 12.3 on food loss and waste. First proposals are to amend the law to make food donation for companies easier and to develop a methodology to identify bottlenecks in agrofood chains leading to losses. Argentina has invited partners from the Dutch golden triangle to cooperate in the horticulture sector and agrologistics, which was kicked off by a first common workshop in Buenos Aires in November 2017.
The presentation of Natalia Basso can be found here.

Toine Timmermans of Wageningen University & Research launched the Postharvest Network 2.0 with three core partners: AgriProFocus, FME and Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. These partners will work together to develop projects from first awareness raising to pilot designs, implementation and upscaling. Work that has been done in recent years by the Postharvest Network has proved this model successful; first results can be seen in trajectories in countries like Vietnam and Indonesia.
The presentation of Toine Timmermans can be found here.


Postharvest Network break-out session “Stop food waste”

During the AgriFoodTech Platform Congress in ‘s-Hertogenbosch the Postharvest Network is organizing a break-out session entitled “Stop food waste; Dutch innovations for efficient food chains in emerging markets”. The session takes place on December 13, 2017 from 11:15 till 12:45, will be held in English and the entrance is free.

The break-out session focuses on the Postharvest Network approach, which has been developed over the past three years, and will be moderated by Dirk ‘t Hooft, Chairman of the current Postharvest Network. The latest development in reducing postharvest losses worldwide will be discussed and some recent Postharvest Network projects will be presented:

  • Michiel van Erkel from the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands will explain why it is good policy for the Dutch government to invest in reducing postharvest losses (“making money out of food waste”).
  • Bhairavi Jani, CEO of SCA Group of Companies from India, will give an overview of reduction in postharvest losses in some agrofood supply chains and how the Postharvest Network contributed towards achieving this.
  • Mercedes Nimo, Undersecretary of Food & Beverages of the Ministry of AgroIndustry from Argentina, will set out how postharvest losses will be reduced in her country.

Finally, Toine Timmermans of Wageningen University & Research will present Postharvest Network 2.0 and the possibilities of collaborating with this new version of the network starting early 2018.

Interaction with the attendees is highly appreciated, and during the whole break-out session there will be enough time for discussion.

To subscribe for the session, please visit the online registration page here.

More information about the AgriFoodTech Platform Congress can be found here.

Vacancy Domain Builder Eliminating Food Waste at Maersk Growth

Maersk Growth is looking for a Domain Builder Eliminating Food Waste. Growth is the Venture Builder & Accelerator within Maersk focusing on building companies from scratch and accelerating the right start-ups to scale and size. Application for this job post is possible until December 29, 2017.

Domain Builder

The Domain Builder will be responsible for setting and executing the strategy within the area of Eliminating Food Waste. The Domain Builder will be a key member of a small and dedicated team that focuses on developing industry networks with relevant stakeholders, developing products and building companies to launch them.

Key responsibilities will include:

  • Developing and executing the strategy for development and investments within Eliminating Food Waste.
  • Building and maintaining a strong network with relevant stakeholders in the industry including establishing Maersk Growth as a key player.
  • Acting as a subject expert and sparring partner for project leaders and Company CEO’s within the Domain.
  • Staying up-to-date on the latest technological developments within the Domain.

For more details, see the Job Posting Domain Builder.
Last application date: 29 December 2017.
For further information, please contact: Recruitment Partner Maj-Britt Clayton on

About Maersk

A.P. Moller – Maersk is an integrated transport and logistics company with multiple brands and is a global leader in container shipping and ports. Including a stand-alone Energy division, the company employs roughly 88,000 employees across operations in 130 countries.

The Growth team was formed early 2017, and is built around a group of highly engaged professionals with very diverse backgrounds and nationalities with an emphasis on entrepreneurship, execution- and business building capabilities.

Efficient horticultural supply chains in Argentina

Argentina invites the Dutch golden triangle to cooperate in the horticultural sector and agrologistics. On November 23, 2017 the new Argentine minister of AgroIndustry, Mr. Luis Etchevehere, opened a seminar on Modern Horticultural Supply Chains at the Mercado Central in Buenos Aires, organized together with the Dutch TopSector Horticulture & Starting Materials, the Postharvest Network and Wageningen University & Research.

The Dutch delegation – which was led by Loek Hermans, Chairman of the TopSector; Richard Schouten, director Fresh Produce Centre & Dutch Produce Association; Cecilia Stanghellini, Senior Researcher Horticulture; and Peter Ravensbergen, business developer Postharvest Network – presented the Dutch horticultural model. After a period of 15 years protecting its own economy, the new government of Argentina has the ambition to become the world food basket and is very interested in Dutch technology, expertise and investments. This creates new opportunities for the Dutch horticultural sector!

The challenges for Argentina are:

  • Formalization of the trade and businesses
  • Productivity increase
  • Transparency / Efficiency in the supply chain
  • Agro-logistics
    • Infrastructure
    • Organization of the chain
    • Multimodal transport
  • Traceability
  • Promotion to consumption

These challenges match with the Dutch expertise in horticultural supply chains. Therefore the Ministry of AgroIndustry has asked Wageningen University & Research as member of the Postharvest Network to identify together with local partners what could be interesting supply chains to be improved. The TopSector will be connected closely in this process. There is a willingness on both sides to intensify the business relations between the countries in the field of horticulture next year, and further actions will be planned soon.

Please download the presentations here (in Spanish):

Please watch the movie about Dutch expertise to reduce food losses in fresh chains (in Spanish “Expertise Holandés para reducir mermas en caderas agroalimentarias”):


Brazil and EU Dialogue on food waste

On October 31, 2017, Nina Waldhauer represented the Postharvest Network at the “Brazil and EU Dialogue on food waste”. Nina’s key message was that well developed postharvest technology and agrologistics are important drivers for maintaining the quality of products throughout the entire value chain.

Brazil and the EU being valuable partners to each other have set up a strategic partnership to promote the exchange of knowledge, experience and best practices on issues of mutual interest. Fighting food waste is one such issue, with Brazil having vast agricultural ressources and great opportunities to develop the agricultural sector, its export and in this applying smart ways to reduce and prevent food waste on the one hand. The EU on the other hand has had longer experience already in setting up large research project around food waste such as FUSIONS and REFRESH and several of its member states have significant experience on developing national strategies, taskforces and other ways of public private cooperations.

On 31 October 2017 a Brazil-EU seminar on food waste was organized in the Rio Art Museum (MAR) in Rio de Janeiro. More than 40 institutions of different links in the agri-food chain were represented at the event. The Dialogue was opened by the Embrapa Director of Research and Development Celso Moretti. Speakers at the seminar gave insight into the development of national strategies as well as international work done by FAO and the Save Food initiative.  The work that various players in the agri-food chain can and should undertake to reduce and prevent food waste was highlighted and insights were given into consumer behaviour that influences food waste.

In this context,  the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Brazil invited Nina Waldhauer of Wageningen Food & Biobased Research and Postharvest Network to participate in the seminar. Nina’s key message was that well developed postharvest technology and agrologistics are important drivers for maintaining the quality of products throughout the entire value chain. This does not only impact food losses and waste but also enables the export of higher-value products and thus can strengthen the local economy through an increase of the GDP, labour productivity, trade and creation of jobs as well as a decrease of transaction cost. Furthermore, it is important to consider the chain as a whole and implement action in a value chain approach. Actions from a single stakeholder or tackling aspects of individual chain elements will not lead to the desired effect and the positive impact might even get lost throughout the chain. Nina stressed that options for cooperation between Brazil and the Netherlands mainly lie in the knowledge and technology that the Netherlands has on agriculture and the transformation from an agricultural country to an international hub for agri-food trade and high-tech agriculture. In cooperation with Brazilian stakeholders the Dutch input can be adapted to the local situation and as such support the further development of the Brazilian agri-food sector.

Please watch the video with an interview with Nina Waldhauer:

For more videos with the lectures of the seminar, please visit the Facebook page of the initiative Sem Desperdício.

Please find here a news article (in Portuguese) in the Empraba on the Dialogue.

World Food India

At the beginning of November, the World Food India trade fair took place in Delhi for the first time. The event was organized by the Ministry of Food Processing Industry, illustrating the priority of Prime Minister Modi’s government to take processing, logistics and refrigeration chains to a higher level.

The emergence of an urban middle class, the rapidly changing food patterns and the enormous decay of fruit and vegetables in the beginning of the chain underscore the need for the changes. India, with 1.3 billion inhabitants, is the second producer in the world of fruit and vegetables with a combined output of 285 million tonnes. Only 2% to 3% of this is processed; the waste can be as high as 40%. To get that right, is a challenge that, given the size of India, even for global food security can be called important.

The Netherlands attended World Food India as Focus Country with a collective pavilion organized by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) in which 28 companies and knowledge institutes participated. The Postharvest Network had delegated Peter Ravensbergen to be panelist and speaker on the side event “Food Processing for Small and Medium Enterprises” during the World Food India congress from November 3 till 5, 2017.

The minister of Food Processing, Mrs. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, held a charismatic speech on the possibilities for the reduction of food waste in India. The Postharvest Network and Wageningen University & Research will continue the discussion with this ministry in order to develop a national grid of food processing in order to reduce food losses drastically.

Peter’s opinion: “It will happen in India in the next decade, however it will not be an easy-to-conquer market.” Please download his PowerPoint presentation “Quality driven innovations in the fresh food supply chains to reduce food losses and waste” (PDF, in English).

Please find more background information on Agroberichten Buitenland (in Dutch).


Successful follow-up on Vietnam’s Conference “LET’S GET TO WORK”

On March 22-23, 2017, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam and the Netherlands government organized the regional Conference on Food Security “LET’S GET TO WORK – building a food secure future”. As follow-up to Postharvest Network’s presence at that conference Nina Waldhauer and Françoise van den Broek visited Vietnam again from August 20 to 26.

The two representatives of the Postharvest Network had several meetings with MARD, IPSARD, VAAS, VieTrade, VNFU, VCA, World Bank, private sector organizations, universities and last but not least, the Netherlands Embassy in Hanoi. One evening the Postharvest Network moderated a seminar on “Dutch showcases: supply chain management in agribusiness” on behalf of Nuffic NESO in HCMC. After which a vivid discussion enrolled, showing once again the need for concrete action to reduce food losses, increase shelf life and food security together.

The Postharvest Network will take part in the preparations for the visit of Minister Cuong to the Netherlands later this year. The Postharvest Network will also start preparing a next trip to Vietnam. During this trip, the ties to the aforementioned stakeholders will be strengthened further and several workshops will be organized both in Hanoi as well as in HCMC. The aim is to develop a roadmap for long-term policy development as well as concrete down to earth actions to reduce postharvest losses.

Would you like to be part of this process? Please don’t hesitate and contact us!

Mobile research facility enables quality control anywhere and at all times

With the “Cool – Research on the move” concept, research institutes and companies can now carry out independent research into the quality of local perishables wherever they are in the world. The result: less food waste, greater export opportunities and more jobs. This unique concept is a partnership between Wageningen Food & Biobased Research and Fotein. It combines knowledge and techniques in the field of postharvest technology into a single mobile research facility.

On the outside, it looks like a normal reefer container. But on the inside it is an ultramodern research facility with climate chambers, measuring devices and control equipment. This enables a fast, reliable evaluation of the starting quality of fruit and vegetables, it ensures that different storage conditions are arranged for different products and monitors their quality decay.

From mango and avocado to aubergine, asparagus and lychees: the production of fresh fruits and vegetables in emerging countries like China, India, Kenya, Mexico and Vietnam has multiplied in recent decades. “This increases demand for the kind of knowledge and technology required to safeguard the quality and shelf life of fresh products,” says Peter Ravensbergen, business developer at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. “The mobile research facility will enable companies and governments to make informed decisions about the storage, transportation and sale of fresh products while maintaining the highest quality. This will in turn reduce food losses and strengthen companies’ international market position. The upshot in the long term will be additional economic activity and employment in the relevant regions.”

Please visit the website or download the press release (PDF) to read more about “Cool – Research on the Move” and for the contact details of the experts.

Reduction of postharvest losses and start-ups in Africa

On June 7, 2017, foodFIRST organized a Vijverbergsession[1] on agro-incubators in The Hague. Peter Ravensbergen was invited to perform a pitch on behalf of the Postharvest Network, presenting the lessons learned of the research “Do’s and Don’ts of Incubators”. . The study, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and performed by Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, mainly focused on agro-innovations.

In the research, 18 entrepreneurs active on the African continent, have been interviewed about their product and the lessons learned. They all have a different sector background: horticulture, arable production, fisheries, husbandry, focusing on improved production techniques or on technical innovations for better quality in the product chain.

The seven most important lessons learned, which also seem to be success factors for the incubators, are:

  1. Work with a proven concept. Focus on tested innovations. This means: the concept, its product or service, should already have a proven result in practice. Keep it simple and start small.
  2. Marketing is necessary for the adoption of the innovative concept. Adoption is regarded as one of the biggest challenges in the acceptance of innovations. The question is how fast and why local businesses will change to the new innovation.
  3. Integral and Chain approach. Working together with other entrepreneurs in the supply chain is preferred. If possible, do not interfere nor work together with local governments: only concerning the legal aspects.
  4. Demonstration of the concept locally. It is important to show the concept to local entrepreneurs: people want to see it work. The demo has to be simple and pragmatic, understandable for local entrepreneurs and preferably adapted to the local village circumstances by entrepreneurs with a pioneer mentality.
  5. Access to the concept for local entrepreneurs. If possible bring the concept (geographically) close to your target group, like entrepreneurs. For instance with mobile units. A local network is crucial.
  6. Access to finance. Money to invest is needed and access to finance is crucial. Check the local conditions for local entrepreneurs to get access to finance. Sometimes local banks demand huge interest rates; requests for collateral are not fair.
  7. Accompaniment/support. To use the concept and to maintain it a good, after sales service and mentorship for entrepreneurs is necessary. Training of the people you work with is crucial. Train them on business plans, budgeting and planning.

More information about the agro incubator session can be found through this link.

The full text of the pitch is available here (PDF).

[1]Vijverbegsessions are closed meetings where academics, politicians and experts from the government, civil society and business discuss global food issues; goal is to formulate conclusions relevant for policy makers.

Image source: Shutterstock “Packing of red grapes in Peru”

Communique Regional Conference Vietnam on Food Security

The regional Conference on Food Security “LET’S GET TO WORK – building a food secure future”, that was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam and the Netherlands government on March 22-23, 2017 has been a success. As an outcome of the Conference a Chair’s Communique was adopted.

One of the main themes the conference focused on was “Reducing Food Losses”, which is connected with SDG12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. In the Communique, the following is stated on this theme:

“Currently around one third of the food produced is being lost or wasted. Reducing food loss and waste (FLW) can be a “triple win” opportunity: it increases income for farmers, companies, and saves money for households; wasting less means helping feed more; alleviates pressure on climate, water, land other resources.

Key action areas identified:

  • Being aware of the food losses caused by different actors in the value chain is the starting point for improvements.
  • Creating ownership of the losses is a challenge to address the issue.
  • Technology and knowledge transfer, together with ICT solutions and entrepreneur skill development are important to the development of food loss/waste reduction.
  • Creating and forecasting demand helps suppliers towards efficient supply along the food chain.
  • Joining a collective or cooperative initiative and creating scale makes investments in the food value chain more attractive for farmers in order to make profit.
  • Coordination between actors in the supply chain is key to reduce food loss along the food value chain. The region has to look at how to connect the players in the supply chain.
  • To make the food value chain work from the producer through the wholesale market to the end market, every link in the chain has to be in place and work in synchronization.
  • The region needs a food secure alliance to make food production more efficient and the use of land and resources less demanding for our climate.”

Please download here the full text of the Chair’s Communique (PDF).

The Postharvest Network hopes this Communique will encourage others to take the implementation of the SDG’s forward. In case you see opportunities on reducing postharvest losses and you are looking for cooperation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

For a more detailed report of the regional Conference, please read the news article.