Postharvest presentation to Thai delegation

Heike Axmann (coordinator of the Postharvest Network) and Eelke Westra (senior scientist Postharvest at Wageningen University & Research) gave a presentation last month on Postharvest Losses and Food Waste to a Thai delegation from the Deputy Director General. Thailand is geographically well positioned to export products into the Asian market. However, supplying the international instead of the domestic market means that lead times to the final market increase and therefore longer shelf life of the product is required. This might go along with the need to grow different varieties, change the moment of harvest, and/or the transport and packaging conditions.

Much interest was shown by the Thai delegation in the mobile research station called ‘Cool research on the Move’. The ‘Cool research on the Move’ is a 40 ft transportable container which can be shipped to any place in the world so that research can be done directly at source. The Postharvest Network can help to optimize production and supply so that products are ‘ready to enjoy’ when they arrive. 

Postharvest workshop during FAB Forum

What economic opportunities do postharvest losses present? And what can the Postharvest Network (PHN) do to help your organization to capitalize these opportunities? This is what has been discussed during a presentation the PHN held, together with BoP Inc, during the NABC Francophone African Business (FAB) Forum on June 19th.
During the presentation, we provided two examples of PHN projects in Benin and Indonesia and zoomed in on a joint initiative of the PHN and BoP Inc: The Food Connection Challenge (FCC), a challenge that encourages existing businesses to connect innovation and business ideas to reduce postharvest losses. The FCC is currently being run in Benin and Nigeria and future editions for Mali and Niger are currently being developed.

Following the presentation, participants in the room were asked about their experiences and challenges in dealing with postharvest losses reduction and translating that to business ideas. Questions that popped up were: who has to take the lead in solving these issues throughout the value chain and in its specific stages? And, perhaps more importantly, who is going to pay for the necessary solutions? Obviously there was no single answer to solve these issues, but the main thought was that to effectively reduce postharvest losses in value chains there is a clear need for chain coordination.

If you want to know more about the PHN and what we could do for you, please contact us at

Learn more on about the Food Connection Challenge on:

Join the Food Connection Challenge!

Are you an SME in Nigeria or Benin, active in the agri & food sector and struggling with issues related to storing, processing, cleaning, grading, handling or transporting of (processed) agricultural products? Join the Food Connection Challenge!

In 2018, the Food Connection Challenge calls upon SMEs in Nigeria and Benin to submit their innovative ideas to reduce post-harvest losses. You will benefit from workshops, training sessions, innovation jams and remote coaching to improve your ideas and turn them into a business plan that is ready to be implemented. The best plans will be pitched at a final event. If you win you will receive matching funding from the Postharvest Network to realize your plans, up to a maximum of €20,000. The Food Connection Challenge is organized by Crosswise Works and BoP Inc, on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.

Learn more and apply on:

A look at PHL in horticulture crops in Ethiopia

A study was undertaken to identify the causes of the postharvest losses of horticultural crops along postharvest chain and set solutions for the identified and prioritized problems related with horticultural crop management in Jimma town. The study was published in the Journal of Biodiversity, Bioprospecting and Development in January 2018, and is available in full text for download.

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).