Boosting agro-food transitions in Vietnam

On March 15 more than 100 people – mainly from fruit & vegetable and logistic companies – attended the seminar ‘ Opportunities of Circular Agro-Food Value Chains: Boosting the transition! ‘ in Ho Chih Min City. They discussed on how Vietnam can boost circular agro-food value chains and reduce losses and waste. The seminar was organized by the Postharvest Network and powered by Wageningen University & Research, the Embassy of the Netherlands and Vietnamese partners.

Heike Axmann (project leader Supply Chain Management Group and coordinator of the Postharvest Network, Wageningen University & Research): “Food losses and waste in Vietnam are above the global average; recent publications talk for instance about 60% losses and waste in fresh fruit and vegetables. Globally this is estimated to be 45%. Less losses and waste can translate to less hunger but also to interesting business opportunities for all chain partners.”

From push to pull market

Axmann explained the principals of circular chains, ‘no waste’ and ‘no feed and food competition’ and new pathways for Vietnam in this relation. “The first focus should be prevention of losses and waste, then reduction, and only then valorisation. Moving from the current ‘push market approach’ to a ‘pull market approach’ can bring many positive changes to Vietnam. Instead of farmers producing crops without knowing the requirements of the market, in a ‘pull market approach’ demand and supply are matched.”

Other combat strategies

“Next to the change of the drivers in the chains, there are also other combat strategies towards zero waste, sometimes developed elsewhere. Post-Harvest technology, agro-logistics, seamless cold chains, processing, use of side streams for feed or material, and novel technologies are all important.”

Task forces

“Collaboration with experienced parties in this domain therefore can boost the transition. A learning from the Netherlands is that initiatives to reduce food losses and waste can best be aligned to high-level task forces, set quantitative targets and monitor the progress. In the Netherlands a national platform called ‘United against Food Loss & Waste‘ has been established with strong support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food. Their aim is to reduce food waste in 2030 with 50%.”

Summary of the seminar program

Carel Richter (consul general of the Embassy of the Netherlands opened the seminar by explaining the importance of circular chains. Willem Schoustra (Agricultural Counsellor of the Embassy of the Netherlands and chairman of the day) pointed out that farmers and powerful collaboration are key in chains: “Together new business opportunities can be opened up.”

Nguyen Phuc Dang (secretary general of Vinafruit) talked about the current situation of their members. Farmers and exporters have to cope with high market requirements and competition from foreign businesses. For Vietnam – a relatively young export nation – it’s not easy to remain competitive and respond timely and adequately to the strict requirements of export markets.

According to Khoa Dao Trong (vice-president of Vietnam Logistic Association) cold chain development in Vietnam is still in an early stage. The refrigerated warehouse capacity in this country is about the half of that in Mexico (both per person as well as with regard to the total capacity). According to data from 2016-2018 Vietnam scores the lowest compared to the refrigerated warehouse capacity in countries like Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, China, India, and USA. Hardware capacity, but also along gaining knowledge and experience can boost the development.

Julie Ly (marketing & sales manager of Control Union Vietnam) explained that to boost circularity we can look at the many proven principals used in the organic agriculture. For example composting, bringing organic matter back into the soil rather than using chemical fertilizers or burning field residuals.

Ant Farms has been setting up export chains for dragon fruit and sweet potatoes. Nguyen Thanh Trung (owner and managing director of Ant Farms) explained that they suffer from the lack of knowledge and experience in Vietnam in relation to post-harvest and proper storage facilities. In their chains, therefore, serious post-harvest losses occur and the storability of sweet potatoes is short and a lot of crop get lost whereas in other places in the world sweet potatoes can have a storage life of 6-10 months under optimal conditions.


Postharvest Technology Course: 8-11 October 2019

Are you looking for an update on the latest technologies for storage, packaging and handling of fresh horticultural products? Would you like to broaden and deepen your knowledge of the biology of postharvest physiology, ripening and deterioration? Then this course might be something for you!

One-third of all harvested crops is lost during storage and distribution; often because of mismanagement and lack of knowledge of physiological processes that occur in plant products. Increasing globalisation requires long-term transport and the demand for high quality products stresses the need for innovative and sustainable postharvest technologies. Prevention of postharvest losses is of major importance for global food and nutritional security.

Organised by Wageningen AcademyWageningen Plant ResearchHorticulture & Product Physiology GroupWageningen Food & Biobased Research
Date di 8 oktober 2019 until vr 11 oktober 2019
Duration 4 days
Setup Campus WUR
Price description Early-bird discount offer: sign up before 15 July 2019 and receive € 195.- discount.
Price EUR2,195.00


Our approach

This course gives participants an in-depth view on:
• The latest insights in the biology of postharvest physiology, ripening and deterioration processes in fresh horticultural produce
• The most important factors for measurement, evaluation and modelling of product quality and loss
• Current technologies for storage, packaging and handling

The course offers a mix of lectures, excursions, demonstrations and ample time for discussions and questions. Demonstrations will be held at WUR postharvest research facility Phenomea. The lectures are given by a team of experts from Wageningen University & Research and UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center.

Target audience

This course is designed for technical professionals responsible for quality assurance, research and extension activities related to fresh produce quality, safety and marketability. The target audience consists of professionals active in the breeding, production, logistics, trade and retail industry with a focus on postharvest quality control.

Course deliverables

The aim of this course is for participants to learn the basic principles behind the factors and processes affecting postharvest quality and understand how to apply this information in their daily practice by developing strategies to maintain postharvest quality.

For more information see:

Seminar: Opportunities of Circular Agro-Food Value Chains: Boosting the transition!

Within the framework of the 2nd International Exhibition & Conference for Horticultural and Floricultural Production and Processing Technology in Vietnam organized in Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center (SECC), the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in close cooperation with the PostHarvest Network, Nova Exhibitions BV and Vietnam Fruits and Vegetable Association, take the initiative to organize a thematic seminar on Opportunities of Circular Agro-Food Value Chains: Boosting the transition!

At the Seminar, the Netherlands and Vietnamese experts will not only focus on reducing food losses and waster that occur along the value chain from farm to the final consumer but rather share their experience, knowledge and technology in turning these food losses and waste into opportunities to improve supply chain and in the end, to get the best value for their money. The experts could define the most interesting improvement areas in every chain elements. The seminar will also give an insight on why can some organizations export their fresh product to complex foreign markets and the others cannot.

The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands would like to invite you to the Seminar.

Date: 15 March 2019, from 9.00 – 12.00 hrs

Venue: Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre 799 Nguyen Van Linh street, Tan Phu Ward, District 7, HCMC

Registration is required. Please send email to register your attendance to the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands via by 13 March 2019. We look forward to welcoming you at the event.


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.