By Jeff Kart
Fruits and vegetables may travel a long distance before they end up at the market, and later, your kitchen. Challenges along the farm-to-retail supply chain are making the trip more difficult in these days of COVID variants, labor shortages and inflation.
AgroFresh, a market leader in the “post-harvest segment,” has been in the business of helping prevent food waste since the 1990s. CEO Clint Lewis says the Philadelphia-based company has been flexing its innovation muscles in recent years, rolling out new solutions, applications and digital technologies to help keep produce moving during the pandemic, allowing fruits and vegetables like bananas and avocados to remain available to consumers year-round.
FreshCloud combines agricultural expertise and digital technology for optimized quality decision-making from harvest to retail. AGROFRESH
“Most consumers don’t recognize that their fruit and produce is often stored for some period of time,” which has been extended in some cases during the pandemic, Lewis says.
AgroFresh makes sure fruits and vegetables maintain freshness and quality as they make their way along the supply chain, minimizing food waste.
Company products include a new line of plant-based, edible coatings called VitaFresh Botanicals, which act like a second skin for produce. “If you have avocados going from Peru to Europe, VitaFresh Botanicals really provides an extra barrier to protect and save moisture,” Lewis says.
There’s also FreshCloud, a cloud-based platform that provides real-time, actionable insights to farmers and others along the supply chain. They can use it to understand harvest timing, for instance, and track the quality of fruit and produce that’s being stored.
“We have solutions that, in essence, help the fruit stay on the tree or the vine longer or at the orchard longer,” Lewis says. “That really becomes helpful where you don’t have access to labor or labor shortage challenges.”
FreshCloud Quality Inspection was recently adopted by Starr Ranch Growers, a leading Washington produce grower, packer and shipper.
FreshCloud Quality Inspection offers a fully integrated platform that has streamlined the quality process and aided in faster decisions on produce quality, storage and packing processes. AGROFRESH
As noted in a 2020 Environment, Social and Governance report from AgroFresh, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says nearly 33% of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, and upwards of 50% of fruits and vegetables perish before being consumed.
An AgroFresh storage technology called SmartFresh has been shown to yield an annual carbon dioxide reduction equivalent to emissions from about 170,000 cars.
“Where the supply chain is long and complex is really where AgroFresh shines,” Lewis says.