Developing novel post-harvest solutions to extend crop storability and increase storage capacity is being investigated as part of a new project funded by Innovate UK.
In the UK, a nutritious and balanced diet can be nearly three times as costly than its less healthy counterpart, with recent price surges making the gap even wider.
Some of the most sought-after vegetables grown locally, parsnips and carrots, not only come at an affordable price point but also serve as a vital source of nutrients. Yet, due to their popularity, maintaining year-round availability presents a challenge – the lack of extended storage options.
This newly funded project will focus on investigating new post-harvest storage practices to remove and minimise the current need for in-field storage for carrots and parsnips. In doing so, it is anticipated that the nutritional quality of both crops will be enhanced.
Leading the consortium is Vegetable Consultancy Services UK Ltd, agronomy service and research provider, in close collaboration with Frederick-Hiam Ltd, farming and fresh produce company, and Crop Health and Protection (CHAP).
Dr James A. Fortune, Research Consultant and Project Lead at Vegetable Consultancy Services UK, added: “It is a very challenging time for the outdoor vegetable industry due to changes in the environmental and social landscape. To combat these changes, we aim to optimise the storage of parsnips and carrots using novel technologies and new thinking to provide affordable and highly nutritious produce to the consumer all year round.”
High crop waste poses a significant challenge for the sector which leads to further increases in production costs, impacting affordability for consumers. As such, the INSPeCT project will aim to explore innovative technologies such as advanced sensors and software systems able to monitor the crops throughout the supply-chain journey.
Jamie Lockhart, Managing Director for Frederick Hiam said: “As a long-term supplier of fresh produce to a wide range of customers, we strive to develop innovative solutions throughout our production process. This not only aims to ensure that we remain competitive, but that we also deliver the best quality at all times to our consumers so that our produce remains a staple part of their healthy diets. This project aims to develop a blueprint from seed to sale that ensures nutritional value is seen as a keen driver of our processes.”